Amputee Venus, 20x20” oil on linen - Arabella Proffer
She was described by one artist as a symbolic fortress of inaccessible temperance, despite the fact she was the mistress of an Earl who had plucked her from the city streets. During a country house New Year’s celebration she was injured during a fireworks display when attempting to bring champagne to the pyrotech master; her foot had blown off, completely. For her blood to be calm the surgeons waited until the following spring to saw away the infection that had engulfed her leg. In this portrait historié she is portrayed as Venus; her triumphant progress framed by the sumptuary surroundings assured to her by the duke. Even with tinctures of ginger, opium, and doses of brandy, the shock and infection wore on and she met her demise within months. The duke, ever sentimental, commissioned an 18k solid gold replica of her foot. He used it as a paper weight.