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Maria Brummell, Sister of Beau Brummell

John Downman (1750-1824)


Signed and dated 1787


7 ½ x 6 inches

The sitter's niece, Georgiana Brummell, Lady Pigott, and by descent, including Mrs Robinson, Dullingham House, Newmarket

Lewis Melville, Beau Brummell: His Life and Letters, London: Hutchinson & Co, 1924, Facing Page 46

'Chris Beetles Summer Show', 2021, No 1

Maria Brummell (died 1854) was one of the three children of William Brummell, private secretary to the Prime Minister, Lord North, and his wife, Mary Richardson, the daughter of the Keeper of the Lottery Office. Her brothers were William (1777-1853) and George (1778-1840), the younger of whom became famous as the dandy and socialite, Beau Brummell.

There is some uncertainty about the date of Maria’s birth. Most biographers suggest that she was the eldest child, and born in or before 1777. However, an obituary notice in
The Gentleman’s Magazine in 1854 gives her age at her death as 70, which would make it likely that she was born in 1784. The present drawing is dated 1787, and the child in it certainly looks closer to three than ten years old, so the obituary is probably correct.
Maria grew up on the family’s country estate of Donnington Grove, near Newbury, in Berkshire. In 1801, she and Captain George Blackshaw of the Rifle Brigade married in Marylebone, London, and settled at a cottage close to Donnington Grove, though they later moved to Hawthorn Hill, south of Maidenhead. They had two daughters: Anna Georgiana (born 1808), who married the German Baron Heinrich von Maltzahn, and Frances (known as Fanny) (born 1810), who married the Polish nobleman, Konstanty Linowski h Pomian.

Following the death of her husband in Paris in 1815, Maria seems to have shared her time between England and Europe, and probably made Brussels her Continental base. In 1821, she was living at 2 Craven Hill (now Leinster Terrace), Bayswater, next to the theatrical family, the Kembles; Fanny Kemble would describe Maria as ‘handsome, dashing’ in her
Records of a Girlhood (1879). In 1840, she was with her brother, Beau Brummell, when he died in Caen, Normandy. She later lived for a time in Florence, and died in Brussels.

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