Monday, 9 September 2013

The scandalous Miss Chudleigh

Elizabeth Chudleigh
Ever since I wrote a post on bare breasts in the17th and 18th century, I have had an eye open for more pictures and text evidence of it. Yesterday I found Elizabeth Chudleigh (1720-1788). She was a society beauty, maid of honor to the Princess of Wales and after 1744 Mrs. Hervey. Her husband, Augustus Hervey was quite notorious himself. Despite being still married to him she later married the Duke of Kingston. In 1775 she was charged for bigamy, but tough she was found guilty; she was never punished, but took her money and left the country. Probably because, no matter how you turned, she was either a Countess of a Duchess.

The married maid of honour, or, the widow'd wife and her two husbands
In 1749 all that was in the future, but tongues wagged nevertheless when she appeared at a Venetian masquerade dressed as Iphigenia. Iphigenia just before she was to be sacrificed, to be exact, and for that purpose she wore a petticoat and just about nothing on her upper body.  In what is said to be a truthful rendition of her costume she is wearing a sheer chemise, but her stays stops well underneath her breasts, so they a very visible.

Miss - in the actual dress as she appear'd in ye character of Iphigenia, at ye Jubilee Ball or Masquerade at Ranelagh
In various satires, however, that is transformed into a completely bare upper body.

Miss Ch-ly

Miss Chudleigh as Iphigenia
And, probably for good measure, in a situation more than a little suggestive.

Iphigenia unmasked
There is an anecdote that the king, who appreciated her costume, asked if he could place his hand of her breast, to which she replied that she could put it on a softer place and placed his hand in his head. But if that is a truthful account, well, I will leave that to you to decide.

A masked ball in Ranelagh Gardens, the Rotunda central in the background. 1749 Etching and engraving with hand-colouring


DLM said...

I'm curious about the first two of the satire prints above; what is the significance of the little face located in front of her pubic area?

Isis said...

DLM: I have been wondering about too! If I find out I will tell you. :)

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