The Life of Henrietta Somerset
Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn and Henrietta, his wife is a painting by Joshua Reynolds in the National Museum of Wales. Wales is not well known for its aristocracy. It was a surprised to learn about this family's link to the early mining industry. The portrait depicts Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn, at the age of twenty, with his wife Lady Henrietta Somerset. The couple were married on 11 April 1769 and she died on 24 July of the same year. Henrietta Somerset was a daughter of his father's friend and political ally, the 4th Duke of Beaufort. Her mother-in-law's wedding gift to her was a magnificent silver-gilt toilet service made by Thomas Heming in 1768, which two years later was passed to the second wife, without re-engraving the name.
The painting is presumed to have begun as a marriage portrait, although the black costume suggests that it was completed as a memorial portrait. Little else is known about Henrietta and her short life: she is preserved only in the painting and represented by the toilet service with its elaborate mirror. The drawing "Off'rings of the World", quotes Pope's 'Rape of the Lock. The suite of portraits below uses insect boxes to build a portrait of Henrietta, until now preserved in only one oil portrait and barely mentioned in history again.
'The Life of Henrietta Somerset', 2010–11, cardboard & glass insect boxes, pins, watercolour, pencil, paper, copper gilt, smoke (each box 20.5x15.5x2 cm)