Antique miniature portraits of the Tormey-Holder Collection



English Artist: Mabel Lee Hankey



Portrait miniature by Mabel Lee Hankey of Lady Jane Seymour Combe Née Conyngham

Lady Jane Seymour Combe Née Conyngham (1860-1941)

frame hallmarked 1903
by Mabel Lee Hankey (1867-1943
(signed Mabel Hankey)

2 5/8 x 3 1/4 inches

watercolor on ivory; housed in a sterling silver pendant frame


About the Artist: (English, 1867-1943; maiden name Mabel Emily Hobson): The fourth of five children born to Henry Edrington Hobson (1819-1881) and Ada Vinson Hardy (1829-1911), Mabel Emily Hobson was born in Bath, in 1867. She exhibited natural artistic skill at an early age -- not a surprise, given that she was born to a three-generation family of artists. Both of her grandfathers, Henry Hobson and James Hardy, were artists; her father, Henry Edrington Hobson, was a painter of landscapes and romantic scenes; and her mother, Ada Vinson Hobson (née Hardy), painted portraits in watercolor. In addition, her older brother, Henry Hope Hobson, was a draftsman; her sister, Amy Elizabeth Hobson, was a portrait painter; and her youngest brother, Cecil James Hobson, was, like her, a painter of miniature portraits in watercolor on ivory. In 1896, at the age of 29, Mabel married William Lee Hankey (1869-1952), himself a painter and book illustrator who specialized in landscapes and character studies. William preferred to identify himself by the surname of Lee Hankey (often hyphenated as Lee-Hankey), rather than just Hankey. (Lee was actually his middle name, derived from his mother's maiden name.) Thus, from the time of their marriage, in deference to her new husband, Mabel took on the name of Lee Hankey, omitting from her married name both her middle name of Emily and her maiden name of Hobson. (The two were listed in many documents and directories by the name Lee-Hankey; and they are, likewise, listed alternatively under Hankey and Lee Hankey in various art history resources.) Twenty-one years after their marriage, the couple divorced. William subsequently married Edith Mary Garner, 12 yeas his junior; Mabel never remarried. After the divorce, she chose to abandon the Lee name and identified herself thereafter as Mabel Emily Hankey. Though often overshadowed by her flamboyant and more successful husband, Mabel achieved notable recognition in her own right. She exhibited at the Royal Academy and the Royal Miniature Society from 1889 to 1897 under her maiden name, and from 1898-1914 under her married name. Having earned the patronage of Lady Cecilia Bowes-Lyon, Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne, she came to ultimately paint numerous members of the Royal Family and British aristocracy. Most famous amongst her sitters was Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (later Queen Elizabeth, wife of King George VI), whom she painted numerous times from early childhood to adulthood. Five of her miniatures are held by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, in the Royal Collection Trust. Listed by Arturi Phillips (pages 212, 213), Benezit (listed as Mabel E. Hobson), Blättel (pages 436, 437), and Foskett (page 555).*








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