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Astley, John (1720–1787), portrait painter and beau, was born at Wem in Shropshire on 24 June 1720, and baptized there on 6 April 1724, a younger son of Richard Astley, surgeon, and his wife, Margaret. After attending school in Shropshire, in the early 1740s he went to ...

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Boothby, Penelope (1785–1791), artist's model and subject of poetry, was born at Lichfield, Staffordshire, on 11 April 1785, the daughter of Sir Brooke Boothby, seventh baronet (1744–1824), and his wife, Susanna (1755–1822), daughter and sole heir of Robert Bristoe or Bristow of Micheldever, Hampshire...

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Penelope Boothby (1785–1791) by Joshua Reynolds, 1788 private collection

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(Beatrice) Romaine Mary Brooks (1874–1970) self-portrait, 1923 National Museum of American Art, Washington DC / Art Resource, NY

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Brooks [née Goddard], (Beatrice) Romaine Mary (1874–1970), painter and lesbian icon, was born in a hotel in Rome on 1 May 1874, the third of three children of Major Harry Goddard, army officer, and his wife, Ella Waterman (d. 1902), who were both American citizens. Her father was reputed to be an alcoholic, and her parents divorced not long after her birth. Her mother was very rich, having a number of residences in various European countries. Despite this she seems to have spent little time or money on her two daughters, reserving most of her affection for her sickly and unstable son, ...

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Buchinger, Matthias [Matthew] (1674–1739), artist, was born on 2 June 1674 at Ansbach, near Nuremberg; details of his parents are unknown. He was born without hands, feet, lower legs, or thighs and in his life never grew taller than 29 inches. Although such symptoms might today be diagnosed as phocomelia, his impairments were attributed at the time to a fright suffered by his mother during pregnancy. He was the youngest of nine children and, according to a biography published in the ...

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Matthias Buchinger (1674–1739) by unknown artist, late 18th cent. (after self-portrait) © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Buckler, John (1770–1851), artist and architect, was born on 30 November 1770 at Calbourne, Isle of Wight, and baptized there at All Saints' Church on 27 December, the eldest son of Edward Buckler (1741–1792) and his wife, Hannah (1745–1809), daughter of William Jacob...

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Elizabeth Christiana Cavendish, duchess of Devonshire (1757–1824) by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1787 Chatsworth House. Photograph: Photographic Survey, Courtauld Institute of Art, London

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Cavendish [née Hervey; other married name Foster], Elizabeth Christiana, duchess of Devonshire (1757–1824), society hostess and patron of the arts, was the middle daughter of Frederick Augustus Hervey, fourth earl of Bristol (1730–1803), and his wife, Elizabeth Davers (1730–1800), and was known for most her life as ...

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Colefax [née Halsey], Sibyl Sophie Julia, Lady Colefax (1874–1950), hostess and interior decorator, was born on 4 December 1874, at The Poplars, Wimbledon Common, Surrey (the house of her uncle, Walter Bagehot). She was the third but only surviving daughter (and fifth and last child) of ...

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Fanny Cornforth [Sarah Cox] (1835–1909) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, c. 1860 Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

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Cornforth [other married names Hughes, Schott], Fanny [née Sarah Cox] (1835–1909), artists' model and intimate companion of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, was born at Steyning, Sussex, on 3 January 1835, and baptized there on 1 February 1835, the daughter of William Cox (...

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Gédéon Gaspard Alfred de Grimaud D'Orsay, styled Count D'Orsay (1801–1852) by Sir George Hayter, 1839 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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D'Orsay, Gédéon Gaspard Alfred de Grimaud [Alfred Guillaume Gabriel], styled Count D'Orsay (1801–1852), artist and dandy, was born in Paris on 4 September 1801, second son of Albert, Count D'Orsay, a general in Napoleon's grand armée, and Eleanore de Franquemont, an illegitimate daughter of the ...

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Dunthorne, John (bap. 1770, d. 1844), artist and early mentor of John Constable, was baptized on 11 February 1770 in Great Whelnetham, Suffolk, the eldest of four children of James Dunthorne (c.1725–1792) and his second wife, Ann Mingay (c.1750–1832)...

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Feibusch, Hans Nathan (1898–1998), mural painter, was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, on 15 August 1898, the elder son of assimilated Jewish parents, Carl Feibusch (d. 1929), dental surgeon, and his wife, Marianne, née Ickelheimer, an amateur painter. He received a classical education and saw military service on the Russian front (1916–18). Following the war he briefly pursued medical studies, but then turned to painting and studied in ...

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Hans Nathan Feibusch (1898–1998) self-portrait, c. 1951 © The Werthwhile Foundation; Tate, London, 2004

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Hale, Kathleen (1898–2000), artist and writer, was born on 24 May 1898 at her family's holiday house, St Bede's, Broughton, Lanarkshire, the youngest of the three children of Charles Edward Hale (1859–1903), a travelling agent for Chappell pianos, and his wife, Ethel Alice Aylmer (1868–1965)...

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Kathleen Hale (1898–2000) by Kurt Hutton, 1949 Getty Images – Kurt Hutton