Duchess of Manchester
Volume 1, page 164, sitting number 860.
Luise von Alten was born in Hanover on 15 January 1832. She married William Drogo Montagu, Viscount Mandeville, later 7th Duke of Manchester in Hanover on 22 July 1852. The marriage was not a successful one, and when the Duke died in 1890, after a decent interval his widow became the wife of the 8th Duke of Devonshire, whose mistress she had by then been for some thirty years. She was thereafter known as 'the Double Duchess.'
An occasional visitor to the French imperial court, her great beauty was praised by Princess Metternich in her memoirs. Consuelo, Duchess of Marlborough, who knew - and detested - her in later life, remembered her differently: 'Rumour had her beautiful, but when I knew her she was a raddled old woman, covering her wrinkles with paint, and her pate was a brown wig, her mouth was a red gash.'
She died at Esher Place in Surrey on 15 July 1911 at the age of 79.
According to her lengthy obituary in the Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer (17 July 1911), 'beauty, wit, and kindness were her characteristics. An excellent linguist, fond of travel, a shrewd observer of men and things, and always near the source of events, she undoubtedly played an influential part in the history of the latter part of the nineteenth century.'