Art Theft of the Princesse de Lamballe Painting in the 1980s

Paintings of Princesse de Lamballe, Callet (left), Rioult (top right), and Le Brun (bottom left), Public Domain
Paintings of Princesse de Lamballe, Callet (left), Rioult (top right), and Le Brun (bottom left), Public Domain

Princesse de Lamballe, who was Marie Antoinette’s friend and her Superintendent of the Household, married the heir of the richest man in France. Because the princesse was royalty and because she was rich, many people were intrigued by her and many portraits were painted of her. One well-known painting that is currently displayed at Versailles was done by Antoine-François Callet in 1776. Another painting was painted by Louis-Édouard Rioult between 1780 and 1785 and appeared on a supplementary issue of Le Petit Journal in 1892. Another person who painted the princesse de Lamballe was one of Marie Antoinette’s favorite painters, Madame Le Brun. Yet, perhaps of all the paintings of the princesse, one particular painting bears mention because it was stolen in an art heist in the 1980s. Continue reading

Wrong Doings of Married Women

Married women, Courtesy of Wikipedia

In 1833, two English women — a Mrs. Emma Lush (wife to a groom employed by the Royal Family) and Mrs. Sarah Wolfe (a servant in a distinguished family) — decided to go on a shopping excursion. After making several purchases, they fell into the company of two strangers who prevailed upon them to accompany them for drinks. Despite not knowing the men — John Clack and a man named Faulkener — Mrs. Lush and Mrs. Wolfe decided to have some enjoyment and went with the men. Continue reading

The Murder of Comte d’Antraigues and His Wife

Comte d'Antraigues, Public Domain
Comte d’Antraigues, Public Domain

Emmanuel Henri Louis Alexandre de Launay, comte d’Antraigues, was a French citizen. While living in France, d’Antraigues become involved in an incident known as the Favras Plot. When his involvement was discovered he fled to avoid execution. His mistress, a celebrated French operatic soprano named Madame de Saint-Huberty, followed him. They eventually married and lived in several countries before finally settling in Russia. However, the comte and his wife were expelled in 1806 because the comte published a pamphlet against Napoleon and the French Empire. Because of the expulsion, the comte and his wife moved to England. Continue reading

“The Monsters” or the “Vere Street Gang” Homosexuals

Vere Street Sign in Westminster, Courtesy of Wikipedia
Vere Street Sign in Westminster, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Police received a tip about the “rendezvous of a society of miscreants of a detestable description.” These rendezvous involved homosexuals and had been occurring for six months at the White Swan. Based on tips, police raided a public house on Sunday, 8 July 1810. It was located on Vere-street and when officers proceeded to search it, police netted 26 people, “the whole of whom, together with the landlord of the house, they apprehended, and lodged for the night in the watch-house of St. Clement’s parish.” Continue reading

The Unsolved Victorian Robbery of Baum, Sons and Co.

Green Arrow Shows the Location of Lombard Street of the Victorian Robbery, Courtesy of Google Maps
Green Arrow Shows the Location of 58 Lombard Street, Courtesy of Google Maps

On Saturday evening, 3 December 1864, about nine o’clock in the evening, the bill-broker, money exchanger, and bullion merchant, Baum, Sons and Co. was locked up and closed until Monday morning. Baum, Sons and Co. was located at 58 Lombard Street in London, and Mr. Peter Frederick Baum had been in business some 40 years. The business was a partnership between Baum, his three sons — Joseph, Godfried, and Noa — and his oldest son Adolphus. In addition, a clerk, a porter, and a young boy worked there. Continue reading

Executed for Jealousy, Elizabeth Richardson

Elizabeth Richardson and Pilmott's Murder
Pilmott’s Murder, Public Domain

Elizabeth Richardson (alias Forrester) was seduced at an early age and when older, she subsisted on wages made from “casual prostitution.” It was her casual prostitution that allowed her to meet an attorney named William Pilmott (perhaps Pilmot or even Pimlot or Pimlott). His chambers were located at Symond’s Inn.

Their relationship seemed to be filled with passion, and Pilmott liked Richardson enough to keep her. It is unclear whether or not the pock-marked Richardson had cause for jealousy, but whether she did or not, she was intensely jealous of Pilmott. In fact, her jealousy drove her to regularly visit Pilmott at his chambers thinking she would find him engaged in some sort of compromising situation with another woman. Continue reading

Detecting the Villainous in Georgian London

Georgian London Pickpockets
Pickpockets, Author’s Collection

Country folk visiting Georgian London and returning unscathed with their purse or their virtue intact was a rare thing. It was easy for gullible country visitors to be taken advantage of by nefarious crooks. Crooks sought to obtain a country person’s hard-earned cash or to despoil an innocent virgin and turn her into a whore. Moreover, country visitors could not readily tell whether a person was good or bad. A Londoner’s  clothing was no clue as to who was good or bad: Quacks dressed like physicians wearing great wigs, sharpers pretended to be gentleman in fancy waistcoats, and procuresses always dressed in the best finery. Continue reading

Regency Female Prisoners at Newgate

Reading to Regency Female Prisoners at Newgate, Courtesy of Wikipedia
Reading to Inmates at Newgate, Courtesy of Wikipedia

The living standards for rural women in England and Wales appears to have become worse as the Industrial Revolution progressed. Moreover, it affected younger and younger rural women. This may have been one reason why one 1960s study shows that in 1795, the average age of a woman incarcerated was 36.94. By 1809, the average age was 25.59 and, rural women incarcerated were younger still because by 1814, their average age was 22.22. Continue reading

Théodore Gardelle – Executed for Dismembering a Corpse

Painting by Théodore Gardelle of Voltaire, Courtesy of British Museum
Painting by Gardelle of Voltaire, Courtesy of British Museum

On Thursday, 19 February 1761, a maid named Anne Windsor acquired the key to the street door of her mistress’s residence. Windsor’s mistress was Mrs. Anne King, “a woman of light character.” King also let rooms to gentlemen, and one of these gentlemen boarders was Théodore Gardelle.

Gardelle was born in Geneva, Switzerland. One story about Gardelle (although likely untrue) is that Gardelle became acquainted with Voltaire in Geneva. He then painted Voltaire’s picture on a snuff-box, and Voltaire was supposedly so impressed by Gardelle, he sent him to Paris with a recommendation.

While in Paris, Gardelle was advised to seek his fortune in London, appeared there around 1760, and began boarding with King. On this particular day as Windsor was busy going about her daily chores she found Gardelle in his room busily at work wearing a “red and green nightshirt.” When Gardelle saw her, he asked Windsor to do some errands. The errands included delivering two letters and acquiring snuff, which resulted in Gardelle giving Windsor his snuff-box and a guinea so that she could obtain a penny-worth of snuff. Continue reading

Georgian Executions

Georgian execution of James Greenacre, Public Domain
James Greenacre, Public Domain

In 1800, one person wrote that “a month doth not pass over in England without repeated executions; and there is scarcely a vagabond to be met with in the country who has not seen a fellow creature suspended from the gallows.” Georgian executions were plentiful enough that one person noted “it is shocking to think what a shambles this country is grown! Seventeen were executed this morning.” This was reiterated by a country visitor to London in the early 1800s. He commented that Londoners were immune to the horror and that it was shocking to constantly hear about executions whereas “in the country, from the less frequency of them, even butchers weep.” Continue reading