Lucy Harington

Lucy Harington
Lucy Harington (1581-1627),

To Lucy, Countess of Bedford, with John Donne’s Satires

by Ben Jonson

Lucy, you brightness of our sphere, who are
Life of the Muses’ day, their morning star!
If works, not th’ author’s, their own grace should look,
Whose poems would not wish to be your book?
But these, desir’d by you, the maker’s ends
Crown with their own. Rare poems ask rare friends.
Yet satires, since the most of mankind be
Their unavoided subject, fewest see;
For none e’er took that pleasure in sin’s sense
But, when they heard it tax’d, took more offence.
They, then, that living where the matter is bred,
Dare for these poems, yet, both ask and read
And like them too, must needfully, though few,
Be of the best; and ‘mongst those best are you,
Lucy, you brightness of our sphere, who are
The Muses’ evening, as their morning star.

Lucy Harington

Portrait medal of Lucy Harington, countess of Bedford (1581-1627), by Nicholas Briot (c.1579-1646), oval cast and chased silver, obv. LVCIA HARINGHTON COM BEDFOR, bust left wearing coronet ruff and plume of heron feathers; rev. IVDICIO NON METV, serpent with tail coiled around its head; engraved signature on truncation (‘N. Briot’), dated 1625 (unique and unpublished), 53 x 42 mm.

Lucy Harington, wife of the 3rd duke of Bedford, was one of the most interesting and vivacious women in court circles. She was a friend of James I’s queen, Anne of Denmark, and daughter, Elizabeth of Bohemia, and a patroness of John Donne, Ben Jonson and Indigo Jones, who designed a number of Masque costumes for her. A portrait at Woburn Abbey shows her in one of these, wearing a plume of heron feathers similar to that shown on the medal. The medal of Lucy Harington is only known from this piece, which may well have been the sole specimen produced for presentation to the sitter.

Nicholas Briot (c.1579-c.1646) was a celebrated French coin engraver, medallist and inventor of minting machinery. He held the post of engraver-general at the Paris mint (1606-25), but in Summer 1625 moved to Britain where he became the principal die engraver at the Royal Mint and master of the mint in Edinburgh (1635-9). During the Civil War he was attached to the king’s court. This silver medal, produced shortly after his arrival in England, is of an exquisite quality that only Briot was capable of at this period.

via Portrait medal of Lucy Harington, countess of Bedford (1581-1627)

Countess of Bedord

via Countess of Bedford Lucy Harrington by Marcus Gheeraerts (David David Gallery) | Grand Ladies | gogm.

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