Katherine, Duchess of Buckingham (1603?-1649), with her children: Lady Mary Villiers (1622-1685), later Duchess of Lennox and Richmond; George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham (1628-1687); and Lord Francis Villiers (1629-1648)
About the work
This group portrait shows the family of courier George Villiers, first Duke of Buckingham. The Duke, deceased by the time the work was painted, is represented in a portrait on the wall, behind his family and in a portrait miniature, which his widow clasps to her bosom.
George Villiers, first Duke of Buckingham, rose rapidly at the English royal court to become a favourite of both James I and Charles I, who invested him with much power, including the appointment of Lord High Admiral. He was also a lavish art collector. In 1623 Villiers accompanied the future Charles I to Madrid, during the failed attempt to negotiate the latter’s marriage with the Infanta.
This is one of a number of versions after van Dyck’s original of c.1633, painted some five years after Buckingham was assassinated, which is now in Rubenshius, Antwerp. The picture follows the convention of contemporary mourning portraits in showing the family grouped around a portrait of the deceased. The Duke’s likeness is based on a portrait by Gerrit van Honthorst in the Royal Collection. Other members of the family wear sombre mourning attire. The work stands in poignant contrast to a large group portrait of the Duke’s family, painted during the Duke’s lifetime (Royal Collection).
About the artist
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.
- MacDonnell, Katherine (née Manners, other married name Villiers), Duchess of Buckingham and Marchioness of AntrimVilliers, Mary (married name Stuart), Duchess of Lennox and RichmondVilliers, George, 2nd Duke of BuckinghamVilliers, Lord FrancisVilliers, George, 1st Duke of Buckingham
- painting (as Subject), group portrait, boy, woman, girl, 17th century costume, armour, dress, collar, riband, van dyke collar, family, husband, wife, son, daughter, mother, father, sister, brother, widow, child, Duchess, Duke, curtain, carpet, chair
- Katherine, Duchess of Buckingham (1603?-1649), with her children: Lady Mary Villiers (1622-1685), later Duchess of Lennox and Richmond; George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham (1628-1687); and Lord Francis Villiers (1629-1648)
- Oil on canvas
- height: 138.50 cm, width: 110.00 cm
- Purchased from Sotheby's, 10 June 1953
- [Probably collection of the Earl of Antrim; collection of Lady Londonderry, Garron Tower, by 1853; possibly sold by Lord Herbert Vane-Tempest (grandson of Lady Londonderry), Plas Machynlleth, in 1948]; collection of J. Kyrle Fletcher [probably Newport, Wales]; sold through Sotheby's, London, ‘Old Master and Modern Paintings and Drawings’ sale, on 10 June 1953 (Lot 83), as ‘The Family of the Duke of Buckingham’; from which sale purchased by Leggatt Bros. on behalf of the Ministry of Works
- GAC number