Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Monthly pick: Matilda Stoughton [de Jaudenes y Nebot] has big dreams and marries a minor Spanish attaché; the portrait by Gilbert Stuart

1794 Matilda in silks, diamonds, pearls, & snowflake piochas (hairpins) 
At age 16, in 1794, Matilda Stoughton was the dutiful daughter and married a man of great prospects; or so it was thought at the time.  Officially recognizing the United States government under George Washington in Philadelphia, Charles IV of Spain sent an ambassador with two trade attachés, one of which was Josef de Jaudenes y Nebot.  The two trade attachés carried on negotiations with regard to Spanish Louisiana, navigation on the Mississippi river, trade with Cuba, amongst other issues. [Spanish and U.S. negotiators concluded the Treaty of San Lorenzo, also known as Pinckney’s Treaty, on October 27, 1795. The treaty was an important diplomatic success for the United States. It resolved territorial disputes between the two countries and granted American ships the right to free navigation of the Mississippi River as well as duty-free transport through the port of New Orleans, then under Spanish control. Prior to the treaty, the western and southern borders of the United States had been a source of tension between Spain and the United States.]
 Marrying the Spanish Consul’s daughter allowed Josef de Jaudenes y Nebot to stay in the United States where he surely happily envisioned being able to stay as a permanently ensconced envoy of Spain (like his father-in-law).  But by 1796, charged with corruption, he was sent back home where he returned to his family’s ancestral estate, a vineyard near Palma, Majorca.  Matilda had surely imagined a more illustrious outcome of the marriage.  But at least the two had their Stuart portraits which were commissioned for the occasion of their wedding.  Which is why the two are remembered today. 

Louisa Carolina Matilda Stoughton was the second daughter of Don Juan (John) Stoughton who, for thirty years previous to his death in 1820 in his 76th year, was the Spanish Consul in Boston.  He was prominent in the establishment of the first Roman Catholic Cathedral in the United States, erected in Boston. Esther Fletcher, whose death in 1789 is noticed in a contemporary Boston newspaper, and who was the mother of his daughter Louisa, was either Stoughton’s first or second wife.  Louisa Carolina Matilda was well known in Boston, in her youth, for her beauty.  In 1794 she married Don Josef de Jaudenes y Nebot.

New York, 1794. ....Her dress is of white flowered silk, finished at the neck with a dainty fichu edged with lace.  Her luxuriant hair is powdered and a coronet-shaped headdress with two tall feathers is set on top of her head in the center.  Nestling in her hair, at the base of the headdress, are clusters of jewels.  Jewels are in her ears, around her neck, on her dress, and at her wrists.  By her side is a table, with a red velevet cover, on which are two leather-bound books, one open as though she had been reading.  Her hands are in her lap and she holds a closed fan.  A brownish-pink curtain is draped in the background, showing clouds and a sky of blue and pink at the right. In the upper left-hand corner under a coat of arms is the following inscription: “Dona Matilde Stoughton de Jaudenes-Esposa de Don Josef de Jaudenes y Nebot Comisario Ordenador de Los Reales Exercitos de Su Magestad Catholica y su Ministro Embiado cerca de los Estados Unidos de America.  Nacio en la Ciudad de Nueva-York en los Estados Unidos el 11 de Enero de 1778.”


The two were married in New York, and there Josef commissioned their two portraits to be done by Stuart.  Was he in love, or did he only wish to advance his career? “Scholars have described him as a “dandy and spendthrift,” a “swarthy Spanish provocateur,” “arrogant,” “slippery,” “shifty,” and even “cruel.”   
(From the Met book Gilbert Stuart [from Albert Ten Eyck Gardner, “Fragment of a Lost Monument,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s.6 March 1948, p 190] p 125), 

Next; Josef's portrait.


David Apatoff said...

Josef must have had especially "great prospects" for Matilda to overlook his "slippery" and "cruel" nature. She should have married for love. There's no guarantee that love won't disappoint either, but at least if it does you end up with a lot of great memories.

David Apatoff said...

StimmeDesHerzens, my friend-- I find that I have to re-route your response to my comment back here, because readers of my blog who read your response didn't understand the larger context; some thought I was secretly wooing some woman named Matilda and that one of Matilda's friends was now accusing me of hiding my slippery, cruel characteristics!

I did not want to delete your comment, so I have just transplanted it back here, in more fertile soil. Your comment was:

Come now David, it must be human nature to hide such characteristics (slippery, cruel), particularly in the wooing stage! & Matilda may have been considered a 'beauty' in her day, but her portrait to my mind doesn't quite reflect it. Josef, who you will see soon (stay tuned), was/must have been ...a LADIES MAN !! Slender, fine-featured, dimple on the glorious he is in his uniform! It is no wonder that Matilda was swept up into his is entirely possible that she married for love. (Those outfits and 'snowflake' jewels would have provided some good memories when they were sent back to the countryside...)

And now here is my response:

Ah, I see-- for a woman, it must be love if the man looks "glorious in his uniform" and has a "dimple on his chin." What better indicator of true love could there possibly be?

That's just what I always suspected.

StimmeDesHerzens said...

My deepest apologies if I confused your readers about who was in love with whom! The rerouting is completely understandable, and correct since we are talking about the de Jaudenes y Nebot couple. Of course NO ONE could possibly suspect you of being slippery and cruel!
So now you have the answer David, which in fact you knew all along. All it takes is a glorious costume and a dimple...but I suspect it goes both ways.........

David Apatoff said...

You're not suggesting that the male of the species can have his head turned by superficial appearances, are you?

StimmeDesHerzens said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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