Large creamware commemorative jug decorated with a print of Mrs. Clarke, circa 1810

Mary Anne Thompson was born on 3 April 1776 in London, the daughter of a humble tradesman. Attractive and intelligent, she was married before the age of 18, to a man named Clarke, who worked as a stonemason. However, shortly after the marriage, her husband went bankrupt, and Mary Anne Clarke left him because of this. By 1803 Clarke had been established long enough in the world of courtesans to receive the attention of Frederick, Duke of York, then the Commander in Chief of the army. Taking her as his mistress, he set her up in a fashionable residence. However, he failed to supply the funds necessary to support their lavish lifestyle. In 1809, a national scandal arose when Clarke testified before the House of Commons that she had sold army commissions with the Duke of York’s knowledge. The scandal was the subject of much humour and mockery, especially by caricaturists such as Isaac Cruikshank who created multiple graphics making fun of the scandal. Cruikshank combined mockery of the scandal while also satirising Napoleon, portraying him and his generals reading four of his caricatures of the Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany and Mary. Frederick was forced to resign from his position, though he was later reinstated.

Height: 9″

Condition: Spout chips restored

Antique cream ware pottery historical English ceramic 18th century