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Hortense Mancini, Duchesse Mazarin, the niece of Cardinal Mazarin, Chief Minister of France, was the fourth of the five famous Mancini sisters noted for their great beauty, who along with two of their female Martinozzi cousins, were known at the court of King Louis XIV of France as the 'Mazarinettes'. The English ambassador to France, Ralph Montagu, enlisted her help in increasing his own standing with Charles II, by replacing the King's current mistress, Louise de Kerouaille, Duchess of Portsmouth. In 1675, she travelled to London under the pretext of a visit to her young cousin, Mary of Modena, the new wife of Charles II's younger brother, James, Duke of York. She was dressed as a man; her penchant for cross-dressing is thought to be an outward expression of her bisexuality.
oil on canvas
H 66 x W 45 cm