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FrontRunners: Upward Nobility

Gay Van Ausdall

Bess of Hardwick underwent a remarkable transformation in Elizabethan England. Born in 1527, she rose from near poverty to become one of the wealthiest women of her day, marrying four times and establishing a dynasty for her Cavendish descendants, the earls and dukes of Devonshire. More than 200 pieces from the family’s collection of art and artifacts are featured in The Devonshire Inheritance at the Society of the Four Arts (561. 655.7226, www.fourarts.org) in Palm Beach, Fla., from December 4 through January 9, 2005. The exhibit documents the evolving tastes of successive generations of the Cavendishes over 500 years. Highlights include a rosary belonging to Henry VIII, a letter from Queen Elizabeth I, medieval manuscripts, drawings by Raphael and Rembrandt, and scientific instruments of the chemist Henry Cavendish. This rare glimpse into British noble life next will be on view at the Mobile Museum of Art in Mobile, Ala., from April 9 through June 19, 2005.

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Photo by Daniel Simon