Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Sally follows Matilda's example; Another young American, Sally McKean weds the successor of the Marquis Yrujo and enters European nobility

The year is 1804, Sarah [Sally] is dressed in the fashionable mode of the time inspired by the famed Empress Josephine of France. Gauzy empire-waisted low cut dress, sleeves and neckline draped with delicate pearls and showing much skin, hair up to expose the delicate slope of the neck...a perfect replica of the grace and beauty embodied by Josephine Bonaparte (who’s beauty was acknowledged by all who saw her, marred only slightly by her teeth.) Indeed Sally bears a similar physical appearance to Josephine.

In the last post we read about the young (16yrs) American girl Matilda Stoughton, who married the minor Spanish attache’ Josef de Jaudenes y Nebot (1794) out of love and visions of diplomatic glory, while he entertained the pleasing notion of becoming the permanent envoy of Spain in America through the marriage to the American. Alas he was caught in a bribery scandal, the couple was sent home to Spain, and Jaudenes was replaced by Yrujo who had arrived from Spain in 1796. Jaudenes introduced the Spanish diplomat to Thomas McKean, Pennsylvania’s chief justice and later governor.
It is possible that they met that year at a dinner party in Philadelphia:
“Among the first to arive was Chief Justice McKean,accompanied by his lovely daughter, Miss Sally McKean. Miss McKean had many admirers, but her heart was still her own...The next to arrive was Senor Don Carlos Martinez de Yrujo, a stranger to almost all the guests. He spoke with ease, but with a foreign accent, and was soon lost in amazement at the grace and beauty of Miss McKean.” [Anne Hollingsworth Wharton, Salons Colonial and Republican(Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1900) p 154]

Later after the government moved to Washington:“Philadelphia beauty and grace were well represented in Washington during Mr. Jefferson’s administration by the wives of the British and Spanish ministers....the dark, dreamy eyes of the Marchioness Yrujo, which look forth from her portrait by Stuart, seem to proclaim her more truly a child of the South than the blue eyes and blond coloring of her Spanish husband. This young woman, as Sally McKean, had been an intimate friend of Mrs. Madison and her sister Anna Payne, and later in the diplomatic circle of the capital they renewed their acquaintance." [Anne Hollingsworth Wharton, Social Life in the EarlyRepublic (Williamstown, Ma: first pub. 1902; 1970 edition) p 115]

Yrujo was created a Marquis in 1803, thus through the marriage in 1804 Sally entered European nobility and became Marchioness de Casa Yrujo. Yrujo’s career in Washington was not much more successful than Jaudenes, although possibly more ethical. He disputed the egalitarianism of the Jefferson administration, insisting on formal protocol of the entry and proper seating of diplomats and their wives at official dinners. He was strongly at odds with the administration on the Louisiana Purchase. The definant minister returned to Philadelphia 1805 and left to return to Spain in 1808.

Sarah McKean, Marquesa de Casa Yrujo
1804, Washington
collection Mr. and Mrs. Thomas R. McKean

Empress Josephine Bonaparte
by Pierre-Paul Prud'hon 1805

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