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Friday, 5 June 2015

Minterne House, Dorset: Lord Digby; Jane Digby ("Ianthe"), Artist, Traveller, Linguist, House and Garden Designer; Greece; Corfu; Syria; Palmyra

We were extremely fortunate to be given the opportunity by Lord Digby (12th Baron Digby) to visit Minterne House to see some of the paintings and sketch books of Jane Digby (1807-1881), an artist whose watercolours and sketches I much admire. Jane Digby spoke nine languages. She lived on the islands of Tinos and Corfu (at Doukades) and in Athens, at various times. She was born in Forston House, near Minterne Magna, Dorset. She became on expert on the ancient ruins of Palmyra, Syria, the subject of many of her paintings.

We are deeply indebted to Lord Digby for his gracious hospitality, and for showing us the house and the Minterne House collection of paintings, especially those by Jane Digby and by her mother, Lady Andover (a talented artist, tutored by Gainsborough)..

Isabel Burton wrote ("The Life of Sir Richard F. Burton", p. 496) that Jane was "refined in manner and voice, nor did she ever utter a word you could wish unsaid. My husband said she was out and out the cleverest woman he ever met; there was nothing she could not do. She spoke nine languages perfectly, and could read and write in them. She painted, sculptured, was musical. Her letters were splendid ; and if on business, there was never a word too much, nor a word too little".

As Lord Digby said about the recent disastrous news from Palmyra:
 "Jane would have been distraught".

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