|Artist||after Nathan Cooper Branwhite I|
|Published||[Published by J.M. Gutch Aug.t 16th 1817]|
|Dimensions||Image 140 x 128 mm, Sheet 196 x 147 mm|
A half length portrait of Mary Wilcox, turned slightly left, facing the viewer directly forward, with a coy smile. She is wearing a lace ruff collar and a turban. Frontispiece to John Matthew Gutch's 'Caraboo'.
Mary (nee Wilcox) Baker (1791-1864) was born into poverty, and struggled to keep a job because of her eccentric behaviour. She worked for awhile as a caregiver to the children of the Matthews family, where she learned to read and write, and became interested in the habits of the neighbouring Jewish family. She left the family after an argument and had several more jobs, making up stories and new names for herself along the way, and never being able to hold onto a job for a long time, because of her behaviour. In 1816, she was pregnant, and claimed to have been married to a gentleman named Baker, who had left her, and not being able to support herself or the child, she left him at the Foundling Hospital. She is infamous for her imposition as a foreign princess named "Caraboo", by making up an exotic language, and claiming to be from an island in the Indian Ocean, called "Javashu", stating that she had been kidnapped by pirates and eventually was able to escape and swim ashore, arriving in England. She was taken into the care of the Woralls family, and remained there for months, until some people she had previously worked with recognised her picture in the newspaper, and remembered her eccentric behaviour. Mrs. Worrall took pity on her and arranged for her to travel to Philadelphia, where she tried to continue to hoax, but failed. She also tried to earn money by exhibiting herself upon return to England, but this also knew little succes
Nathan Cooper Branwhite I (1775-1857) was a British painter and printmaker, who exhibited at the Royal Academy in London from 1802-1828, and later moved to Bristol. He was known for his fine miniature paintings on ivory.
Condition: Trimmed within plate mark, part of inscription missing. Slight overall time toning.