I went to see an exhibition today of work by Rose Dempster Bonner  at Orlean House Gallery. She lived from 1874-1967 and lived in East Sheen Richmond. I’d never heard of her before, she had 13 paintings shown at the Royal Academy (as have I) and did mainly portraits of skilful ability in oils and pastel. She was a single woman with an independent spirit and was probably gay and lived with a woman. Tragically she lost most of her sight in her fifties so couldn’t paint anymore. although her Mother lived with her and she did some remarkable paintings of her, when her Mother died she left her out of her will as she disapproved of her life style. However her 2 brothers were sympathetic to her attachment to her friend and gave her rightful share in the family estate.I enjoy visiting Orleans House and seeing the Octagon room built as a garden pavilion for a Thames side house by James Gibbs(1672-1746) who built St Martins in the fields at Trafalgar Square. The most famous resident of the original House( now demolished apart from the octagon room) was the Duc d’Orleans ,Louis Philippe who rented the house while in exile from France between 1815 and 1817. After the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, Louis Philippe returned to France becoming King in 1830. the house then became known as Orleans House.


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