Partner Mary Berry
27 Upper Brook St, Mayfair, London W1K 7QF, Regno Unito
Strawberry Hill House, 268 Waldegrave Rd, Twickenham TW1 4ST, UK
St Mary, Sundridge, Sevenoaks TN14, Regno Unito
Anne Seymour Damer, née Conway, (8 November 1748 – 28 May 1828) was an English sculptor. Anne Seymour Damer was the subject of a number of political satires in the XVIII century. After her husband's death, she developed a close friendship with Mary Berry and her home in Strawberry Hill became associated with a sapphic set including the actresses Kitty Clive and Elizabeth Farren. One satire, entitles A Sapphic Epistle, by Jack Cavendish, referred to a Mrs D...r and claimed: Strawberry Hill at once doth prove, Taste, elegange, and Sapphic love, In gentle Kitty. Another referred to Elizabeth Farren before her marriage to Lord Derby, observing: superior to the influence of MEN, she is supposed to feel more exquisite delight from the touch of the cheek of Mrs D...r, than the fancy of any novelties which the wedding night can promise with such a partner as his lordship.
Anne Conway was born in Sevenoaks into an aristocratic Whig family; she was the only daughter of Field-Marshal Henry Seymour Conway (1721–1795) and his wife Caroline Bruce, born Campbell, Lady Ailesbury (1721–1803), and was brought up at the family home at Park Place, Remenham, Berkshire.
In 1767 she married John Damer, the son of Lord Milton, later the 1st Earl of Dorchester. The couple received an income of £5,000 from Lord Milton, and were left large fortunes by Milton and Henry Conway. They separated after seven years, and he committed suicide in 1776, leaving considerable debts. Her artistic career developed during her widowhood.
Anne was a frequent visitor to Europe. During one voyage she was captured by a privateer, but released unharmed in Jersey. She visited Sir Horace Mann in Florence, and Sir William Hamilton in Naples, where she was introduced to Lord Nelson. In 1802, while the Treaty of Amiens was in effect, she visited Paris with the author Mary Berry and was granted an audience with Napoleon.
From 1818, Anne Damer lived at York House, Twickenham. She died, aged 79, in 1828 at her London house, No. 27 Upper Brook Street, Grosvenor Square. She was buried in the church at Sundridge, Kent, along with her sculptor's tools and apron and the ashes of her favourite dog.
Damer's friends included a number of influential Whigs and aristocrats. Her guardian and friend Horace Walpole was a significant figure, who helped foster her career and on his death left her his London villa, Strawberry Hill. She also moved in literary and theatrical circles, where her friends included the poet and dramatist Joanna Baillie, the author Mary Berry, and the actors Sarah Siddons and Elizabeth Farren. She frequently took part in masques at the Pantheon and amateur theatricals at the London residence of the Duke of Richmond, who was married to her half-sister.
Anne Seymour Damer, née Conway (copy after an original of 1772–1773) Joshua Reynolds (1723–1792) (copy after) National Portrait Gallery, London
Self Portrait marble (?) by Anne Seymour Damer (1748–1828). Uffizi Gallery, Florence
Anne Seymour Damer (1749–1828), as the Muse of Sculpture (detail), 1778, marble by Giuseppe Ceracchi (1751–1801)
Elizabeth, née Farren (1759–1829), Countess of Derby c.1788 Anne Seymour Damer (1748–1828) National Portrait Gallery, London
Mary Berry (1763–1852) (based on a work from c.1793) Anne Seymour Damer (1748–1828) National Portrait Gallery, London
A number of sources have named Damer as being involved in lesbian relationships, particularly relating to her close friendship with Mary Berry, to whom she had been introduced by Walpole in 1789, and with whom she lived together in her later years. Even during her marriage, her likings for male clothing and demonstrative friendships with other women were publicly noted and satirised by hostile commentators such as Hester Thrale and in the anonymous pamphlet A Sapphick Epistle from Jack Cavendish to the Honourable and most Beautiful, Mrs D— (c.1770).
A romance between Damer and Elizabeth Farren, who was mentioned by Thrale, is the central storyline in the 2004 novel Life Mask by Emma Donoghue.
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