Completed Military History, Portraits: British 16th and 17th C 30 New information found on 'Young Man in Armour'

Topic: Subject or sitter

This painting was the subject of an earlier discussion, that came to no firm conclusions.

I open it up again because I happened to notice that a version of this painting was offered for sale at Sotheby's on 9 July 1986, lot 24 (see which misses the far right edge of the picture). The sale catalogue identified the male sitter as Jerome Watson, 2nd Earl of Portland (1605–1663) with his wife Frances Stuart (1617–1694). Sotheby's attributed it to David Beck, and it does seem better than the museum's version (the armour especially), closer to Van Dyck perhaps, though the underlit chin giving a kind of porcelain quality to the skin seems a bit odd to me (though happy to defer to Bendor on all that!). The format seems a little odd too, like two independent portrait studies placed in close proximity (it is oil on board). But I know nothing of portraiture in this period. My purpose here is simply to advertise the fact that the Sotheby's catalogue proposed names for both the sitter and the painter, and to suggest that the discussion might be started up again.

R. Stephens, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

This discussion is now closed. The Captain Christie Crawfurd English Civil War Collection is satisfied that this is a portrait of Lord John Stuart and ‘after Van Dyck’. Art UK’s painting record has been updated and the new information will be visible on the website in due course.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this discussion. To those viewing it for the first time, please see below for all the comments that led to this conclusion.


Tim Williams,

Brilliant spot!

Pedantic correction though - the sitter is Jerome Weston not Watson.

It was thought that there was an original by van Dyck that was engraved by Hollar:,_Jerome_(DNB00)

Though annoyingly it was a 17th century error:

That error has pretty much scuppered online research! So references to pictures of Jerome would need to be treated with the knowledge that they are probably his father!

R. Stephens,

yes sorry: Weston not Watson, my fingers just typed the wrong letters.

Tim Williams,

Smith was apparently unaware of the identification error when he compiled his raisonne in the 1830s, (as are some collections still), so the correct identification must have been relatively recent.

Osmund Bullock,

Yes, well done Richard.

Oddly, Jerome Weston's wife Frances was in fact the sister of Lord John Stuart, a previously suggested identity for the sitter...or perhaps not so odd, granted the multiple blood connections found amongst a relatively small group of top-end C17th nobility.

R. Stephens,

The female sitter in the Sotheby's picture is a copy of part of Van Dyck's double portrait of Lady Portland with her sister-in-law Lady d'Aubigny in the Pushkin Museum. Lady Portland's half of the double portrait was also known through Anthony Browne's late 17th century engraving.

From one of Bendor's posts, we know that the armour in the Crawfurd picture was also used in a Van Dyck portrait circa 1738-40 of Lord Goring (Sotheby's 8 December 2010, lot 17). I *think* that the double portrait of Lady Portland and Lady d'Aubigny is also 1738... could that help with the dating of the Crawfurd picture?

Bendor argued that the Crawfurd picture was not a direct copy after Van Dyck, but was the work of a copyist very familiar with Van Dyck (such as a former assistant who had set up on his own), who'd used the armour and pose from the Lord Goring picture for the Crawfurd picture. But doesn't the 1986 Sotheby's picture make the case stronger that the Crawford portrait is a copy of a Van Dyck?

Osmund makes a valuable point about Lady Portland's family & I think we should keep hold of the idea that the sitter was one of her brothers. Previously we were going on his resemblance to two Stuart brothers in the NG's double portrait. But now we have both the resemblance and his appearance (in the Sotheby's picture) alongside a Stuart sister. Why should the Sotheby's copy not show brother and sister together, any less than husband and wife? All we can say for sure, I suppose, is that she was a relation of Lady Portland.

R. Stephens,

sorry sorry: Alexander Browne not Anthony Browne, I always get them mixed up.

Many thanks for the comments and for spotting the Sotheby's sale item. from as long ago as 1986! I submitted a comment a couple of weeks ago but it seems to have got lost. I too spotted the sisters in law whilst looking for Frances Stuart and thought that if she was copied from a van Dyck painting then it is probable that Jerome(?)'s portrait was also copied. The likeness is too good for it not to copied from the same portrait as ours, but is the Sotheby's attribution correct? Since Elizabeth is a correct copy then do we assume it is her husband? Or as Richard says, it could be her brother. Is it too much of a coincidence that she married a man who looked like her brother, as portrayed in the van Dyck picture of John and Bernard?
If they are both copied from other paintings, then I would like to find the original of the young man to help resolve the confusion.

R. Stephens,

The Sotheby's attribution is a supposition, but in any case it has scant bearing on the identity of the Crawfurd copyist.

There's also a bust length version of the same woman in the Royal collection:
The website attributes it to Remigius van Leemput but in fact Oliver Millar considered it could equally by Remy or Theodore Russel.

That NPG engraving is interesting. Bulfinch was himself just copying an old thee-quarter length portrait he'd seen in Covent Garden dealer's shop. His original pencil drawing is in the Courtauld:

But none of this gets us closer to answers on the Crawfurd picture.

Toby Campbell,

Agreed. I only suggested Russell for the sothebys picture as a further line of research.

Osmund Bullock,

I think you'll find the (Pushkin) van Dyck is dated 1638 - the year of Katherine Howard's marriage to Lady Portland's brother, George Stuart (Seigneur d'Aubigny). Even if we did not know the exact date, such an important double portrait would, I feel, have been most unlikely if the sitters were not closely related by birth or marriage (and they were not by birth).

No further comments have been received and I think we can reasonably suppose that the Sotheby's "pair" are brother and sister, possibly copied from other portraits including the Pushkin van Dyck, and the original from which our young man has been copied. Since the latter has not come to light in the discussions we can only revert to the previous statement that the subject is possibly Lord John Stuart. The identity of the artist has less relevance to us as it would only affect the value of the painting should it ever be offered for sale.
We are content to close the discussion on this note as we are now able to place him next to his brother in the gallery.
We have other portraits whose identity is unknown or in doubt and we would like to close this discussion before opening another query.

I posted a lengthy comment about Richard's excellent spot some time ago, but it didn't appear for some reason. I see another commenter seems to have had the same issue.

For what it's worth, I think the Sotheby's picture is quite an awkward composition, and unlikely to be a copy of a lost original by Van Dyck. It appears to me more likely to be a confection by some immediate follower of, or assistant of, Van Dyck, based on his portrait of Frances Stuart, and incorporating another, separate portrait, which I still think is likely to be the work of an independent artist. As far as these 'Leemput-like' )as Sir Olive Millar called them) copies after Van Dyck go, the picture Richard found looks to be good quality.

But we are here chiefly concerned with the identity of the sitter - and one could say that Richard's discovery in fact makes it less likely that the sitter is Lord John Stuart. If this copyist - Leemput or whomever they are - had access to Van Dyck originals to copy, as he did for Frances Stuart, why would he not incorporate a direct copy of Lord John Stuart from Van Dyck's double portrait now in the National Gallery? Also, in my experience, brother and sister portraits are quite unusual in English portraiture, that is, outside the usual format of child portraits.

So is the sitter, then, the 2nd Earl of Portland? That would seem more logical. But then I see he was born in 1605, so I suppose we should expect the sitter in this picture to be older. What we really need to see are more images, if they exist, of the 2nd Earl of Portland. Might there be some in the Heinz Archive?

Osmund Bullock,

I think I did look in the Heinz a couple of months ago when I was after something else, and there weren't...but pathetically I've mislaid my notes from that day, so I can't even be sure I looked properly. I suspect I'd remember well enough if there *had* been a portrait of him. I may be in the vicinity tomorrow - if so I'll check. Failing that it'll have to be the week after next.

As Bendor says the Sotheby's painting is a "confection" and the subjects did not "sit" for it as for portraits of younger siblings so there seems no reason why they would not be brother and sister if that is what they, or the painter, wanted to portray.
However I cannot agree that it is Jerome since, as Bendor says, he would have been older. He did not inherit the Earldom until he was 30 which in those days was not considered "young". The Pushkin painting was 3 years later. Also he is painted in armour, which presumably implies that he was a combatant, which Jerome wasn't.
Thirdly since there are few, if any, portraits of Jerome, what could the portrait be copied from? There is a picture of his father on the net, and though I am no genealogist I can see no family resemblance, whereas Lord John has a considerable resemblance to his brothers Bernard and James.
Fourthly, Bendor asks why the painter would not copy Lord John from the van Dyck double portrait in the National Gallery. I suggest that he did, it is practically a mirror image with the lace collar replaced by armour! Could the reason be simply that he wanted his two subjects to face one another? And could our portrait be a copy of him taken from the Sotheby's picture?
I would be interested if Osmund was able to find a portrait of Jerome, but if not we would be content to remain with the probable identification as Lord John Stuart. It is a lot more convincing than the identity of several of our other portraits attributed to them by Christie Crawfurd!

R. Stephens,

I disagree with the museum's method and conclusion, even though I think it is not unlikely that the sitter is one of Lady Portland's brothers. But the fact is that we have one positive identification of this sitter, and one only, and that is as 2nd Earl of Portland. Annoyingly we do not know the basis of that identification, but for the time being it trumps the other arguments offered. Who is to say why he might have the appearance he appears to have? We are simply not in a position to say. If the discussion must be brought to a premature conclusion, then I would say that this is a 'portrait of a man in armour (perhaps 2nd earl of Portland)' then the blurb could rehearse the arguments in favour of the brothers. To say this is 'probably' such and such a person is to attribute too much certainty to things. We just don't know (yet).

Like Bendor, i said all of the above in another post about ten hours ago but simply couldnt get it online so gave up trying.

Bruce Trewin,

I disagree with this being a flipped copy from the Van Dyck Stuart brothers painting.
Other than the age of the sitters there are too many discrepancies: the hair line, the eyes (both orbit size and view position), even the nose profile is too different to be copy. Usually a flip copy at this period is the result of a copy having been made of a print, but when I look at these two images side by side I can't see a competent artist making these changes. See attached.

1 attachment
Osmund Bullock,

Completely agree, Bruce. Funnily enough I did the flipping/ cropping/ joining exercise myself the other night, but then forgot to write the post as intended next day!

I suppose it's still not completely impossible they're the same man (and I don't think any of the other Stuart brothers fit); but if so there must be have been another source for the image.

I didn't make it to the Heinz on Thursday, but checking the boxes for the 2nd Lord Portland is top of my list for early February (if no-one else gets there first).

Alice Read,

Just to clarify - this means for anyone in the future having trouble adding comments.

Osmund Bullock,

I checked the boxes at the Heinz, and apart from the wrongly identified prints of the 1st Earl, there are no portraits there at all of Jerome Weston, 2nd Earl of Portland, either alone or with his wife - even the 1986 Sotheby's couple does not appear to be there, under Portland at least. I didn't have time to go through the unillustrated card index, but because of the 1st/2nd Earl mix-up that is very likely bring up false positives. There is also no image of him listed (other than the wrong 'un) in O'Donaghue's comprehensive catalogue of engraved portraits and drawings at the British Museum.

I also checked for related images of Lord John Stuart, and while I was at it of two of his brothers Bernard (cr. E. of Lichfield) and George (9th Seigneur d'Aubigny): none of them was remotely similar. An absolutely thorough search would have extended this to Henry (8th Seigneur), who lived in France and died in Venice in 1632 aged 16; and Ludovic (wrongfully 10th Seigneur), a catholic priest in France - so both impossible, frankly, for a man shown in armour; and finally to James (1st Duke of Richmond and 4th of Lennox) - but his appearance is well-known from other portraits, and neither he nor Bernard nor George bore any resemblance to our sitter. I suppose one might check under the 'Stewart' spelling for any strays, but I think that's getting desperate.

The only one of the Stuart brothers conceivable is Lord John, and there is no known image of him that corresponds to this.

So we have run out of Portland and Stuart possibilities - and, short of a meticulous search of images of every male of the right period, age and status (or another serendipitous spot), of any possibilities at all.

R. Stephens,

Not exactly. We have one positive identification of this sitter - 2nd Earl of Portland. That is where things stand, and have stood since 12 November. It is not my call but I think this discussion should be concluded. We have done all we can while sitting on our bottoms - and Osmond has done considerably more.

But if I were researching this painting, I would (a) go through the relevant Van Dyck boxes at the Witt to see if the double portrait had appeaared before and if there are other versions of the head; (b) write to Sothebys and ask them to pass onto the buyers of their double portrait a request for info about the painting (ie what is on the back), and (c) take a look at Sir Oliver Millar's notebooks in the Paul Mellon Centre, for surely he would have commented on the double portrait when it came up for sale. I think they may be inaccessible at he moment, though, due to building works.

It seems that everything that can be done, within reason, has been. Without a validated portrait of Jerome Weston it is difficult to attribute the identity to him, and one wonders from where the painter of the Sotheby's couple obtained the image, if images of the Earl are so rare.
We agree that this would be an opportune time to terminate the discussion and we can live with the two possibilities, as we do with other dubious identifications. Thanks to all of you for your strenuous efforts and helpful suggestions.
Tim Norris - for the Trustees

Do the Group Leaders agree that this discussion could be closed, per the last comments made three years ago by the owning collection, or could more be added now?

I agree with the above. We have no doubt that it is Lord John Stuart, as portrayed by van Dyck with his brother Lord Bernard as two swaggering cavaliers. The picture of Frances Stuart in the double portrait is taken from the one with her sister in law Katherine D'Aubigny and ours is a copy of the accompanying male who is very similar to the portrait with Lord Bernard. We are content with the above identification. It is not her husband.