Wife of Sir John Robartes, 2nd Baron Robartes.

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San Diego Sarah  •  Link

A portrait of the lovely Letitia Isabella Smith Robartes, Countess of Radnor, plus her story with a shout-out to Pepys:


HIGHLIGHTS in case the link disappears:
Oil painting on canvas, Letitia Isabella Smith, Countess of Radnor (c.1630-1714) after Sir Peter Lely (Soest 1618 – London 1680), 18th century.

The right honourable Countess of Radnor, second wife of the 1st Earl of Radnor whom she married in 1646/7, seated in a red velvet dress trimmed with ermine resting right arm on table with coronet.

She was the daughter of Sir John Smythe, of Bedborough, Kent and Isabel Rich, youngest daughter of Robert Rich, 1st Earl of Warwick (and Sidney's 'Stella'). They had 4 sons and 5 daughters, including the Hon. Francis Robartes (?1650-1718), the composer and scientist; and Letitia Isabella Robartes, who married firstly, in 1669, the 2nd Earl of Drogheda, and secondly, around 1679, the playwright William Wycherley.

After the death of the Earl of Radnor at his celebrated house (previously Danvers House in Chelsea, which both Pepys and Evelyn visited) the sitter married her Chelsea neighbor, Charles Cheyne, 1st Viscount Newhaven (1625-98).

Lady Robartes, as she then was, was described by Pepys as "a great beauty indeed", and she is also the subject of a celebrated story in the Memoirs of Count Grammont.

According to Grammont, she momentarily excited the desires of James, Duke of York, when: "in the zenith of her glory. Her beauty was striking; yet, notwithstanding the brightness of the finest complexion, with all the bloom of youth [sic: it was unusual for a woman in her thirties, after frequent child-bearing, to be so described in the 17th century], and with every requisite for inspiring desire, she nevertheless was not attractive". Robartes resisted all the bribes to connive with his being made a cuckold, until he was finally forced to take her off on a pilgrimage to St. Winifred's Well, which was said to cure women of barrenness, and: "did not rest until the highest mountains in Wales were between his wife and the person who had designed to perform this miracle in London."

Her son, the hon. Francis Robartes probably gave the painting to his wife, Penelope's father, Sir Courtenay Pole, 2nd Bt.

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