Photographer: Lafayette studios
Sitter: Mabel Edith Baring, Lady Ashburton
Provenience: London, England
This is a portrait that seems rather intimate and almost cosy, like a photo you could take at home of someone in your family. But it is actually a studio photo, carefully arranged and one of a series showing the sitter with and without her only son - this one being the one without.
Mabel Edith Baring is here shown reclining on a pile of big cushions in a way that was not the most common way to show off one of the noble ladies of the nation. She has a bright coloured dress, she has a pearl necklace and is on top of this wrapped in a fur cape. Her hair is pinned up and carefully curled to form waves on her head. On the forehead there is some curls showing.
All in all this means that though the sitting might not be the most typical one the lady's appearance is.
The sitter is Hon. Mabel Edith Hood, born in 1866, and the daughter of a viscount. In 1889 she married Francis Denzil Edward Baring, 5th Baron Ashburton, making her Baroness Ashburton. Between the years 1890 and 1898 the couple had five children. First came four daughters - Venetia Marjorie Mabel (who became a maid of honour to queen Mary), Aurea Versa (who married major Charles James Balfour), Angela Mildred (who died unmarried at the age of 101) and Violet Alma Madeline (who died unmarried at the age of 28) and then the son Alexander Francis St Vincent. She died in 1904, just 37 years old.