Completed Military History, Portraits: British 16th and 17th C 19 Who is the 'Young Man in Armour' and what painting is it a copy after?

Topic: Subject or sitter

The trustees of this collection would like to know who this young man is. We find that in 1978 it was seen by David Addison from Cheltenham Art Gallery who suggested that it was a copy by van Dyke. Can anyone help in identifying the picture of which this is a copy and who the person is.

The sitter is probably from the Civil War period, probably a participant, even a combatant, probably Royalist. He is unlikely to be by the studio of van Dyck, probably a copy, so the original – and possibly other copies – should exist somewhere.

Completed, Outcome

Jade Audrey King,

This painting is now listed as by a follower of Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641), rather than as a copy after Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641). An execution date of 1630s–1640s has been added. Extra information now accompanies the title of this work to reflect the possibility that the sitter is Lord John Stuart:

Portrait of a Young Man in Armour
(possibly Lord John Stuart, 1621–1644)

These changes will appear on the Your Paintings website by the end of November 2014. Thank you to all for participating in this discussion. To those viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all comments that led to this conclusion.


Dave Evans,

On the subject of a possible sitter for the portrait I would (very tentatively) suggest that that there is perhaps enough of a similarity in the facial features between this work and Van Dyke's known portraits of James Stuart, Duke of Richmond and Lennox (and also of his brothers) to suggest that this may either be James (albeit probably at a younger age than in the portrait linked to below) or one of his siblings.

Greaeme Cameron,

I also concur with those thoughts Dave. The same realisation of a Stuart family resemblance came to mind on first seeing it as well. and having prepared a comprehensive response to assist determination of the sitter, date and artist, was thwarted by a quirk in the system which could not be saved. Accordingly I shall post a this synopsis of the observations and findings and again when time permits, provide the corroborative details and supporting evidence.

Those findings indicated this appears to be a quite significant portrait of

Lord John Stuart, portrayed as "General of Horse" painted from a life sitting, during his period fighting the Royalist cause in the Civil War for the Stuart Court, then at Oxford, circa 1643 at age 22, just prior to his untimely demise, in March 1644.
Accordingly, the putative artist here proposed is William Dobson.

The image provided shows the 17 year old John Stuart, from his 1638 joint portrait with Bernard Stuart, by van Dyck, compared with the subject portrait proposed as being from 1643 at 22 years, at Oxford, painted by William Dobson. A self portrait of Dobson from this period is also shown.

General John Stuart was born on 23 October 1621.3 He was the son of Esmé Stuart, 3rd Duke of Lennox andKatherine Clifton, Baroness Clifton (of Leighton Bromswold).1 He died on 29 March 1644 at age 22 at Alresford, Essex, England, slain fighting the Roundheads.3
He gained the rank of General of Horse.4 He fought in the Battle of Bramdene on 29 March 1644.3
1. [S6] G.E. Cokayne; with Vicary Gibbs, H.A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors, The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910-1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume I, page 330. Hereinafter cited as The Complete Peerage.

Greaeme Cameron,

Addendum: It should be noted that there is subsequent crude over painting within the face, especially around the eyes, which detracts from the original.

Now that I am able to join the discussion, thank you both for your helpful comments. Dave's first:- I agree there is a resemblance and interestingly we do have a picture (no 048 in our collection) of James Stuart 1612-1655 which is in facial pose the image of the portrait of him with his greyhound from your link. But James did not fight or engage in politics even though he supported his cousin the King, so rather strange to see him in armour. This could be just symbolic though.
We had never connected the unknown young man with this other portrait even though there are similarities, but looking again it is also similar to that in the second link of a younger John and his brother Bernard. In this case the facial pose is not the same, and if ours is a copy (it cost £4 in 1934 so is unlikely to be an original) I wonder what it was copied from. Christie Crawfurd attributes it to William Dobson but also suggests it might be by van Dyck - these comments presumably refer to the originals. I would like to see an image of an original portrait of John in that facial position at that age to help convince me.

On to Greaeme's views - there are certainly Stuart family resemblances and the possibility of it being another member of the family is intriguing and more appropriate to the armour.
There is a portrait by Gainsborough on the historical portraits image library of Bernard:-|-Thomas-Gainsborough
which is interesting, showing the long aquiline nose and rather more "sensuous" lips than our portrait of James Stuart, and which have more similarities to our unknown man.
It is exciting to think that it is John, who gained high rank in the Army and may well have usurped Prince Rupert had it not been for his tragic early death, after Rupert's failure at Marston Moor. At present he is away having his frame restored, and it is intended to transfer his frame to Mrs Cromwell whose own frame has fallen into disrepair and not suitable for the Lady Protectoress, but if we can identify him, possibly as John, we may have to think again! I will be undertaking further research as you will be Greaeme. I wonder if the Goodwood Estate could provide any clues?
P S I will have a good look at the portrait tomorrow to see whether I can detect the overpainting around the eyes.

Adam Busiakiewicz,

Sadly, I have no comment regarding the identification of the sitter. However, my gut tells me that this is isn't a Dobson. Compare it to the colouring and brushwork of Dobson's bust portrait of James Graham, Marquis of Montrose;

It seems more likely that this portrait might have originated from Van Dyck's studio, or from a late follower. This type of bust portrait, in Greenwich Armour, originates from the very late, flat, simplified and polished portraits by Van Dyck, like George Goring;

The portrait in question seems to be a bit too flat to me to be considered a studio piece, but some high quality photographs might provide more clues.

We shall await Bendor's opinion with bated breath.

Greaeme Cameron,

Kind thanks Adam and The Captain Christie Crawfurd English Civil War Collection for welcome comments to those initial observations, I hope they have assisted. As an interim response, there were two fascinating dilemmas with both the sitter and possible artist. On earlier comparing physiognomies I believed that from the two most likely contenders,the Stuart brothers, that John's less angular jaw and softer features were closer to the subject work than Bernard's more pronounced profile and also the more natural preferred styling of his hair. There seems a very slight chance that it may be Bernard, but only if his features were much 'enhanced', but John Stuart remains the prime candidate IMH.

As to age, period and artist, my inclination is that when fortunately being able to compare it with that of his 17 years in van Dyck's 1638 portrayal, his approx 22 year age also accords, likewise his expression, armour etc. These seem too accurate not to have been taken from a c.1643 life sitting, rather than this being a later copy of some lost c.1643 original.

Regarding the suggestion of a putative artist, if indeed John Stuart, his age and 1643 location at Oxford would rule out van Dyck's London studio. Also if ad 'vivum' , his 'rank' would assure an artist of greater status than a van Dyck 'studio' artist, having sat to the master himself.

It is undoubtedly most heavily influenced by van Dyck, yet having attended the rare Dobson Exhibition in the earliy 1980's in London, I witnessed how variable and how "van Dyckian, Dobson's work could be, particularly when he desired to imitate it, or perhaps in this case when it was specifically requested by this former van Dyck sitter.
These initial observations were lost in cyberspace during the First post.

R. Stephens,

I'm sorry to sound intemperate, but the idea that this is by Dobson is ridiculous. I thought Art Detective was a forum for specialists in this field?

May I interject from the collection before it gets heated! It might put people off commenting if they had to prove they had relevant qualifications. According to the donor of this painting it is attributed to the studio of van Dyck but is unlikely to be an original as we think most of our collection are copies.
Earlier it was suggested that the subject was James Stuart 1612-1655 but we have a portrait identified as him (museum no 21) which is attributed to the school of William Dobson and there are significant differences to the unidentified young man, so the suggestion of Lord John Stuart is much more likely. If so we would be pleased to have another identifiable addition to our collection.
Following a recent visit from a group studying various Civil War locations, doubt has been cast on the claimed identities of some other paintings which warrant further investigation. While it seems not too difficult to state that a subject is NOT who they are claimed to be, it is much more difficult to state precisely who they are! Unless any more candidates are submitted we would be happy to describe him as John Stuart in future until or unless someone claims otherwise.

Greaeme Cameron,

Richard Stephens

Your 'Sorry' platitude before some ill-informed and offensive misstatements doesn’t excuse ridiculing another contributor's research and credentials. You obviously know little about my work and its results

There is nothing 'ridiculous' about the fact that Dobson not only imitated van Dyck's style, but actually made copies of his works, and of Titian's. Therefore if this sitter is as proposed, John Stuart at Oxford in 1643, which his physiognomy suggests, then the possibility of Dobson being the probable artist is quite plausible. Accordingly it could also have been produced in Dobson’s known “van Dyck manner”, which this certainly portrait exhibits. It is also one of the finer portraits of the collection.

Since you are by inference asserting superior “Specialist” knowledge than that of myself, then you should have no trouble presenting your erudite evidence of the alternative sitter and artist you claim as not ‘ridiculous’, to support your case as this forum requires.

(“Please support your comments with evidence or arguments.”)

As to to your further false slight, against my research, not being that of a “specialist in the field’; The Consultant to the UK’s PCF organization, is a long time research associate, assisting Rembrandt projects since 1979. He once wisely noted, "I wish to be judged for my research and results".

During 45 years and 300 odd restitutions, both authentications &/or identifications, of many finer lost and misattributed works than these, others have also kindly judged that research, whose knowledge and the few opinions here cited, unlike yours, are valued and greatly respected.
The Late Graham Reynold's correspondence (attached)

Incidently, what is your record of restitution and/or identification?

Code of Conduct
When you are involved in public discussions please adhere to these guidelines:
• Do not enter into arguments that may offend

You are in breach of that Code.

I have further identified another portrait by a leading master after perusing the previously unseen works in this same fine collection. However given these circumstances I'm now inclined to leave this forum to such "exclusionist specialists" as yourself and continue as before to observe such important works languishing unrecognised in the nation's inventory to its loss,

I shall independently restitute misattributed and lost works for other nations more conducive to this research, including Italy, where the Arts Minister is following my research on a lost Raphael as also a particular Minister of the British Parliament regarding two important da Vinci and Tudor masterpieces, unrecognised in the UK National Collection.

It is due to the past failure by such “Exclusionist Specialists” to perceive them,that without such knowledge and assistance they shall remain so.

R. Stephens,

'Art Detective' began life as the Oil Paintings Expert Network (OPEN), which was introduced to its prospective members as "an online forum to give museum curators access to specialist art historical and other expertise regarding paintings in their collections and to allow academics and other people with specialist knowledge to share that with curators in respect of specific paintings." People asked to join that network were invited "to comment on, advise on and discuss issues raised by curators, colleagues and informed members of the public about works of art in public collections that lie within your area of specialism."

My point is that we are asked here to contribute our specialist knowledge. Often - usually - it is best simply to admit that we don't know, and to remain silent. We are not asked here to attempt an answer to every question put forward; only to contribute the little we know, when it is relevant.

As for this painting, my own hunch (& it is nothing better than that) is that it is a wooden version circa 1700, or perhaps even much later, of a mid-century portrait of one of the Stuart boys - there were quite a few of them, after all.

This picture is an interesting case. it is not a direct copy of a Van Dyck. But it is a copy of part of his late (c.1638-40) portrait of George, Lord Goring. The Goring picture sold in London recently:

The Crawfurd Collection portrait copies the pose and armour of the Goring portrait, but differs in the head and the collar. Van Dyck did not it seems re-use the Goring pose himself, so we can be fairly sure that the Crawfurd portrait is not a copy of a lost, original Van Dyck. It is interesting that in the part of the armour where the new, smaller collar is seen in the Crawfurd picture on the sitter's left shoulder, the drawing of the armour, which had to be 'invented' by the new artist, is a little confused. The drawing of this new collar too is also quite weak, and misunderstood; one side seems too long.

We know that Van Dyck's poses were re-used by other artists, especially after his death, when there was a lack of original compositions created by successor artists such as Robert Walker. I would suppose that the Crawfurd portrait dates from the 1640s onwards. It may have been painted by a close follower of Van Dyck, perhaps one of his studio assistants who began an independent practice.

It would be helpful to have a higher resolution image. That said, it is not an especially good portrait it seems. Which should not be that surprising, as not all of Van Dyck's English assistants and close followers were that good in any case. Of course I'm generalising here.

However, there has been some misleading speculation on this (and other posts). It is impossible to tell from these images whether there is overpaint around the eyes. I think we can be sure, too, that this is not a portrait by Dobson, if only on grounds of quality. The face is not constructed in the manner of Dobson's faces, and nor do we see anywhere the distinctive, rather florid handling of that artist.

As to the sitter, I doubt that he is a member of the Stuart family, and really we need more than a vague similarity in the likeness to other portraits to go on. We might also say it is too plain a portrait to be the son of a Duke. I'd have thought that in the absence of another version or engraving, we are only likely to arrive at a sitter through some research into the provenance. Is there any more information that might be forthcoming on that angle?

Alice Read,

Please see attached a high resolution image from the collection.

Image is copyright The Captain Christie Crawfurd English Civil War Collection.

1 attachment

The PCF have kindly provided an HD image. We have no further knowledge about this painting, either from the original donor or subsequently. We have a painting of Lord Goring (allegedly!) which is a similar pose though less full face, and the armour is similar, but a much older man.
I would add that we are not seeking to sell this painting and pass it off as a doubtful representation. As with other portraits in our collection, if there is a probability of it being a particular individual then we can relate that person's history and their role in the Civil War. Much better than having to say that it is "unknown".
Tim Norris - representing the Trustees

Thanks for the image. As I suspected, no individual artist's name springs to mind; certainly not Van Dyck or Dobson, nor others such as Walker. I think we can be sure the picture is a period one, around the time of the Civil War.

One other avenue of possible inquiry occurs to me; it might be worth going through the work of miniaturists like Samuel Cooper, to see if this picture relates to a miniature. Miniaturists of the period, including Cooper, often borrowed poses and armour from Van Dyck.

Greaeme Cameron,

Dear Tim, Thank you for providing the HD image. There is more interesting research to convey and I stand by the identification of the sitter as probably John Stuart circa 1643, as others have also not ruled out. Thanks also for your valued wise comments regarding the matters above. Also like various others, whose same opinion on the artist should now likewise be deemed, to be consistent, as “misleading speculation”, my initial putative “Dobson painting in the van Dyck manner” remains a good possibility and I have found other good examples. But there could be a fascinating twist as well, I shall later inform you of..

The image further demonstrates just how fine your portrait actually is, despite again quite contrary views as to the quality of master expressed above as just “a studio or follower work”. Its high quality was also previously discerned from my "considered research" of your earlier lower resolution image and not, as wrongly & unprofessionally slighted above, by "misleading speculation".

For that reason, I shall contact the Collection directly about another excellent portrait by a leading Dutch Master discovered in your Inventory, because unfortunately, in this particular section of the forum, a clear and continued bias exists against my research contributions by its Convenor, etc. and it’s not the first time.

In a further misstatement dismissing a valid observation earlier made, regarding "overpainting", where it is arbitrarily "asserted"; "It is impossible to tell from these images whether there is overpaint around the eyes". That also is just not the case !

For your Collection's assistance Tim, please find definitive evidence of that later "crude overpainting around the eye areas" as earlier correctly noted. This was originally correctly perceived by close examination of that low resolution image, of which I have retained a record, and further confirmed by an advanced scanning technology used for such examination in the research. . As with earlier posts, I hope this advances your knowledge of the work for your Collection and the nation.

The attachment amply confirms the "overpainting" of the eye area, now even more observable both in a detail of the HD original, and in a "cleaned" image, which better emphasises this later brushwork, crudely outlining the eyelids and even around the Iris

Thank you Greaeme for your attachment, though my untrained eye does not detect much difference. It does not matter too much as it is the identity of the person and his role in the War that interests us more.
I would like to thank all the contributors on behalf of the collection for their informative and helpful comments which has led me down other interesting avenues of knowledge. I think it is mainly agreed the subject is Lord John Stuart. We have a copy of the eldest brother James, 1st Duke of Richmond, after William Dobson (according to CC's notes), which shows a definite family likeness now it is pointed out, and thanks also for bringing to my notice the van Dyck painting of John and Bernard - it is a superb painting which was mentioned recently on a radio series about male fashions through the ages as a supreme example of cavalier dress and the natural arrogance of two aristocratic young men sadly killed in the war.
Also the reference to George Goring was fascinating. We have an almost exact copy of the one sold at Sotheby's and I agree the armour and the pose is the same as Lord John. The accompanying notes augment my knowledge of this most colourful character!
Thanks too to Alice at the PCF for her assistance in getting me logged on and for providing the hi-res image. Michael does have a disk of the better images.

The images we have seen do not show any evidence of over-painting around the eyes, and nor is it possible to 'clean' a painting digitally as suggested. In fact, the condition looks pretty good to me.

Personally, I would urge caution on the likeness - it seems to me that there is not enough evidence to make a firm identification to John Stuart.

As it is unlikely, in the absence of any further provenance clues, that we can usefully add anything further here on this forum, I propose that we conclude this discussion. We can at least now be fairly confident that this is a late 1630s-1640s painting, based on a prototype by Van Dyck, and by a reasonably talented but at this stage unknown follower of Van Dyck.

I agree that we have got as far as we can with this topic and it should be closed. There is some evidence to show that the subject could be John Stuart and it certainly shows a likeness. We will treat the identity with caution as we do with many of our portraits of dubious identity, and we will eventually hang his portrait next to that of James Stuart, possibly his eldest brother, and will no longer refer to him as "unknown".
Many thanks for all the contributions - it has been a valuable exercise.
Tim Norris - for the Trustees.