The Bishop of Ripon

Letitia Louisa Kerr, 1837


Letitia Louisa (Lou) Kerr (1800-1885) moved in aristocratic circles enjoying a life of social events and weekend house parties. Amongst her friends was Lady Mary Robinson, just nine years her junior. Mary had, upon her marriage in 1832 to Henry Vyner, been gifted Newby Hall near Ripon by her father Lord Grantham. Newby Hall had originally been designed by Sir Christopher Wren with later additions by Sir John Carr of York and interiors by Robert Adam so it would have been a most splendid setting for a grand house party. It was usual for Letitia Louisa to cut profiles of her hosts and fellow guests during these occasions.

Amongst her fellow guests on this visit was Charles Thomas Longley (1794-1868) who was then the newly appointed Bishop of Ripon. Longley went on to be appointed Archbishop of York and in 1862 Archbishop of Canterbury, a position he held until his death.

The silhouette has been cut from black paper and laid on card. It is meticulously inscribed in the artist’s hand ‘Revd C. T. Longley / Lord Bishop of Ripon / Newby Hall, Nov 3 1837’. The silhouette is held in a period bird’s eye maple veneer frame with a gilt slip. The silhouette has very light age browning; the frame has minor old losses to the veneer.

The eldest daughter of Charlotte, Countess of Antrim and Vice-Admiral Lord Mark-Robert Kerr, Letitia Louisa was an amateur artist who painted portrait miniatures and cut profiles of her family and friends. Her talent and skill is unquestionable and her silhouettes are much prized. She remained single most of her life but in 1871, aged over seventy, she married a childhood friend, Cortlandt-George Macgregor, a retired captain from the 1st Dragoon Guards. The couple settled on the Isle of Wight. When Macgregor died a few years later, Letitia Louisa was left totally bereft.

Item Ref. 5901

Size: framed, 184 x 149mm (7ΒΌ x 6")

Provenance: Bill Fox-Smith collection