While I was reading the great biography, “Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein” by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler, I noticed these words beside a picture of Claire Clairmont: ” The only known portrait of Mary Shelley’s stepsister. It was painted in 1819 by Amelia Curran.”
Naturally, I had to learn more about Ms. Curran.
Amelia was born in Ireland in the year 1775. Not much is known about her life, but when she was in her twenties she traveled to Italy to study painting. There she befriended the radical Percy and Mary Shelley.
In 1812, Amelia accompanied Percy back to Ireland where he campaigned against the British government’s injustices.
Three of her paintings of Percy now hang in London’s National Portrait Gallery and are noted for capturing his strangely beautiful androgynous features.
Amelia completed this portrait of Mary and Percy’s son, William, not long before he succumbed to illness in Rome. He was only three years-old. It is the only known portrait of him to exist.
In 1821, whilst living in Naples, Amelia converted to Catholicism and excelled in copying portraits of Renaissance Madonnas. Presumably, she never married, and died quietly in 1847. She is buried in the Church of St. Isadore in Rome.