I came across this wistful-looking lady through the book below, which I’ve been devouring. She had good reason to be sad.
The youngest Wyndham sister, Pamela, was hovering on the edge of a marriage with Harry Cust when one of Cust’s most regular mistresses, Violet, Duchess of Rutland, encouraged her young relative Nina Welby to begin an affair with Cust in order to keep Violet’s own hold over him.
The scandal when Nina was found to be pregnant tore the aristocracy in two and effectively ended Cust’s political ambitions, with Arthur Balfour – widely believed to be in love with the eldest Wyndham sister, Mary – undertaking the negotiations to preserve all parties’ reputations and try to secure Pamela and Cust’s marriage. Nina herself was widely believed to have been forced into an abortion by Cust in order to cover up the affair, which made their subsequent ‘respectable’ marriage even more hollow.
The portraits above and below are now found in the National Trust property Belton Hall in Lincolnshire.
Nina painted by John Collier and Florence Seth.