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This full-length portrait of diplomat, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Lord High Treasurer Richard Weston, first Earl of Portland (1577-1635) shows the sitter wearing a black doublet and a white ruff. He stands before a swathe of deep yellow fabric and a classical pillar, holding a document. The Lesser George, signifying membership of the Order of the Garter, is suspended around his neck on a light blue riband.
Richard Weston, Earl of Portland became MP for Maldon and was knighted by King James I. In 1620 he was sent on a diplomatic mission to Brussels and Prague in connection with problems with the Palatinate. He was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer on his return and was Lord High Treasurer under King Charles I. Weston was made Knight of the Garter and Governor of the Isle of Wight in 1633 and Earl of Portland in 1634.
This portrait is a version of a lost original by Sir Anthony van Dyck, painted in around 1635. Other versions of the portrait are at Gorhambury House in Hertfordshire and at Kingston Lacey in Dorset.
Sir Anthony van Dyck was born in Antwerp. Early in his career he was an assistant to Peter Paul Rubens. He first visited England between November 1620 and February 1621, where his work impressed King James I. He then travelled to Italy, staying until the autumn of 1627, before returning to Antwerp. During his time in Italy, van Dyck developed as a portrait painter, painting mostly wealthy merchant-princes. His style evolved under the influence of works by Titian and Veronese. In 1632 he returned to England, where he became 'Principal Painter in Ordinary' to Charles I. The following year he was knighted. His portraits of the royal family enhanced their prestige at home and abroad and his work had a profound influence on British portraiture.
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