An English Woman Abroad

In the 17th and 18th centuries young gentlemen were encouraged to take a tour of Europe in order to complete their education and broaden their horizons. It enabled them to discover the cultural wonders of Europe and perhaps to sow a few wild oats before settling down to a respectable adult life.

But what about their sisters? Did they sit meekly at home practising their accomplishments?

Well, not always, as we discovered recently at Basildon Park. This painting by Pompeo Batoni is of Miss Frances Lyde Browne. She undertook a Grand Tour with her Father and was in Rome from 1776-8. Whilst her parent was a collector, Francis was more musically inclined.

In this lovely portrait she is depicted in the guise of Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of music. Unlike Batoni’s swagger portraits of young aristocratic British men, showing off on tour, Frances appears calm and poised.

Other well known lady grand tourists include Lady Anna Miller, Mary Wollstonecraft and Lady Elizabeth Holland.