Anne Mee (neé Foldsone) (c.1775 –1851)
It is recorded that Anne's husband would only consent to let her paint 'Ladies Only' and they were not to be accompanied into the painting room by gentlemen, making the existence of the present work even more intriguing...
This is a preparatory sketch by Anne Mee for her portrait of the army officer and later politician Colonel John Sidney Doyle painted in 1837 [private collection].
Doyle was the son of Lieutenant General Sir Charles William Doyle and Sophia Coghill of Bramblestown, Co. Kilkenny, and in 1835 married Susan North, Baroness North, whose name he took later in 1838. North represented Oxfordshire at Parliament between 1852-5 and in 1886 was invested as a Privy Councillor.
Anne Foldsone had an early introduction to painting through her father, John Foldsone, a London-based portrait painter. She began to paint herself at around the age of twelve and was a pupil of the portrait painter George Romney. She soon became the sole support of her mother and eight brothers and sisters. Her role as a professional portrait painter exposed her inevitably to comment about her character and sex, for example, the poet William Hayley described her as a 'young female genius in miniature' and 'a pretty, modest and sensible girl'. Horace Walpole, the ageing diarist, however called her 'a prodigy of dishonest impertinence'.
Anne was introduced to Queen Charlotte and with her sister she was placed to board with a Madame de Lafitte who lived in a house in the cloisters at Windsor. One of Madame de Lafitte's duties was to read German with the princesses, and she was often accompanied by Anne who would paint miniatures of the Queen and her daughters. Anne married Joseph Mee in 1793 and thereafter was generally known simply as 'Mrs Mee'. It is recorded that her husband would only consent to let her paint 'Ladies Only' and they were not to be accompanied into the painting room by gentlemen, making the existence of the present work even more intriguing. In 1814 Mrs Mee completed an important commission for George IV to paint a series of large miniature portraits of fashionable ladies - these were engraved as 'The Gallery of Beauties of the Court of…George the Third', a reference to other series of court beauties painted in the seventeenth and early 18th centuries. Mrs Mee died in Hammersmith in 1851.