Mrs. Robinson

John Raphael Smith, After a painting by George Romney


Mary Darby Robinson (c. 1757-1800) was an actress, poet, novelist, feminist, and one of the most famous courtesans of her time. She was briefly the mistress of the future George IV who was captivated by her performance as Perdita in Florizel and Perdita, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. The nickname of Perdita stuck with Robinson for the rest of her life. Out of a fictive oval frame, she peers, sporting an elaborate bonnet and carrying a muff. Robinson’s beauty inspired many of the best artists of her day to paint her portrait, such as George Romney, Thomas Gainsborough, George Dance and Johan Zoffany.