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Artwork Details
Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough (1660-1744) [?] politician and courtier; wife of 1st Duke of Marlborough
Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough (1660-1744) [?] politician and courtier; wife of 1st Duke of Marlborough
 
Artist 
Charles Jervas
Title 
Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough (1660-1744) [?] politician and courtier; wife of 1st Duke of Marlborough  
Medium  
Oil on canvas
Dimensions  
135.5(H) x 156(W)
Acquisition  
Purchased from Christie's, 18 June 1976
Number  
12426
Description

Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough reclines in the grounds of an impressive estate. Her red dress and pale pink skin form a striking contrast to the cool, dark colours of the landscape around her.

Born in 1660 to Richard Jenyns MP and his wife Frances, at the age of 13 Sarah was appointed Maid of Honour to Mary of Modena, the second wife of James, Duke of York and introduced to James' daughter Anne (later Queen Anne). In 1677, Sarah married John Churchill. After defecting to William of Orange, John was rewarded with the title Earl of Marlborough. However, his correspondence with the Jacobite court led to his imprisonment in 1692, on suspicion of high treason. After her husband┐s release, Sarah temporarily retired from court life. She returned when Anne ascended to the throne in 1702 and Sarah and her daughters were honoured with important court positions.

Following military success, the Duke was granted the manor of Woodstock in Oxfordshire, where he built Blenheim Palace, designed by Sir John Vanbrugh. Sir Christopher Wren designed his London home, Marlborough House. However, five years into Queen Anne's reign, Sarah's relationship with the Queen soured. Sarah lost her influence at court and her husband was exiled. In 1742, she published an account of her association with Queen Anne. Sarah died two years later and was buried at Blenheim Palace.

Charles Jervas, portrait painter, translator and collector of art, was born in Dublin. He moved to London in the mid 1690s, where he studied under Sir Godfrey Kneller. He succeeded Kneller as Principal Painter to King George I and later to George II.
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