The Countess’ Print Album: An Examination of Heads, English & Foreign Collected by Henrietta Louisa Jeffreys, Countess of Pomfret
Print Collection , Eighteenth-Century , Henrietta Louisa Fermor , Henrietta Louisa Jeffreys , Lady Pomfret , Eighteenth-Century Women's History , Printed Portraiture , Eighteenth-Century Rare Book
In 1730, Henrietta Louisa Fermor (née Jeffreys) compiled an album of printed portraits with hand-written biographies. Through a detailed examination of the portraits and biographies held in the album titled Heads, English & foreign collected by Henrietta Louisa Jeffreys, countess of Pomfret, this thesis places the album in the historical context of 1730s English print collecting. At the time the album was created, print collecting was extremely popular with upper class Europeans, like the countess. Not only does the album reflect the history of collecting prints and biographies, but it also reflects the ways upper-class women engaged in intellectual endeavours during the Enlightenment through socially acceptable means. In an era when intelligent women were met with suspicion and ridicule, women who collected or otherwise cultivated learning had to engage with such practices in a socially accepted way or choose to ignore the criticism. Neither approach shielded a woman completely from gossip. The album will be discussed in the context of the sexism the countess faced and how that sexism shaped her historical legacy.