Politician Carew Hervey Mildmay, dressed in a loose red coat and without a wig, looks at the spectator with a direct and solemn gaze. Painted in 1733 by the Dutch artist Herman van der Mijn, this picture includes coded messages that only the sitter’s friends and close associates would have been able to decipher and understand.
In his youth Mildmay stayed at the Court of Hanover. He later became MP for Harwich and, from 1709 to 1714, acted as Private Secretary to Henry St. John, later Viscount Bolingbroke (1678–1751) while the latter was Secretary of State in Queen Anne's Tory ministry. In 1714, when Bolingbroke lost his post, Mildmay retired from public life to become a country gentleman, living on his estates at Marks Hall in Essex and Hazlegrove House in Somerset (where this work was painted). Ensconced in the country, Mildmay refused to be tempted back into public life by Bolingbroke and others, remaining an independent country gentleman until his death in his 94th year.
Herman van der Myn was born in Amsterdam and trained there under Ernst Stuven. He worked as a flower painter before moving to Düsseldorf, where he was employed by Johann Wilhelm, Elector Palatine. Van der Mijn painted history pieces in Düsseldorf, returning to Antwerp by 1717, where he began to specialise in portraiture. He moved to London in c.1721, but ran up considerable debts and was forced to restore paintings for the eighth Earl of Exeter at Burley House, Northamptonshire. In 1736 he returned to the Low Countries with William IV, Prince of Orange and Princess Anne. Van der Myn painted a portrait of the prince the following year, but later fell out of favour with the couple and returned to London. He died in London in November 1741.
on harpsichord, on panel below keyboard: H: VAN DER MIJN 1733.
Collection of the Reverend Charles Arundell St John Mildmay of Hazelgrove House, Sparkford, Bath, Somerset (died 1904); sold through Sotheby’s, London, on 6 February 1957 (Lot 17); from which sale purchased by Colnaghi, London; from whom purchased by the Ministry of Works in 19 December 1958
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