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by Sir Godfrey Kneller, James Butler, second Duke of Ormond

Core Record

Title James Butler, second Duke of Ormond
Collection Oxford Portraits: University of Oxford
Artist by Sir Godfrey Kneller
Date 1700-1702
Acquisition possibly given by Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1701 or 1702
Description Whole length, standing slightly to left; the head turned slightly to right.; flowing grey wig; lace cravat; full Garter robes: crimson and white surcoat, slashed cloth-of-silver breeches and short waistcoat, white silk stockings, buff shoes with jewelled buckles, blue velvet mantle lined with white silk; with badge, collar, George and Garter; his right hand rests on his hip, his left on his mantle; white plumed hat on table to left; breastplate at his feet; red curtain background. Frame surmounted by coronet.

'On 21 July 1688 Ossory succeeded his grandfather as duke of Ormond in the Irish and English peerages. Almost immediately opponents of James II's religious policies moved on 23 July to elect Ormond to the chancellorship of Oxford University in order to forestall a royal nominee. The earl of Rochester then proceeded to court to persuade James II to accept the decision, which was accomplished when Ormond took up the post with royal approval in August. ... In September 1688 he was nominated to the Garter, but he was clearly ill at ease with James II's policies ...

Ormond voted on 31 January 1689 against the motion to declare William and Mary king and queen, and on 4 and 6 February against the motion to declare that James had abdicated the throne. These stances aligned him with high toryism and Jacobitism; however, his Dutch connections (his mother was William's second cousin) and his friendship with William saw him reconciled to the new regime. He was appointed a gentleman of the bedchamber (1 March), had his Garter confirmed (installed on 5 April), and was named lord high constable of England for the coronation on 11 April. (Stuart Handley, entry for James Butler, 2nd Duke of Ormond, Oxford DNB2004)

The portrait commemorates the Duke's investiture as Knight of the Garter, and was conceived in relation to the portrait of his grandfather, James, Duke of Ormond by Sir Peter Lely (1678; version, Kedleston Hall, National Trust Collection), in which the sitter is almost identically posed in Garter robes. The portrait was acquired by the University in 1701-02:

'Item paid Sr Godfrey Knellers man for varnishing two pictures of the Duke of Ormond 02-03-00' ('Expensae Extraordinariae', 1701-02, Bodleian Library Accounts 1676-1813, p.34 verso, Library Records, c.28)

'Item paid for carriage of the Duke of Ormonds & Hudibras pictures 01:12:08' (ibid.)

The identity of the donor, however, remains uncertain. Mrs Lane Poole noted that the portrait was mentioned in a letter to the diarist, Samuel Pepys, of 6 Oct 1700, from Dr Arthur Charlett, Master of University College and pro-vice-chancellor of the University, who added that Kneller ' "is desirous to have some of his Art visible in the Gallery" '. (Lane Poole, I, p.141) (Kneller donated his own portrait to the Bodleian Library in 1721, see Lane Poole, I, p.89, no.222). The portrait was given to the University possibly by Kneller, or the Duke himself.

Mezzotint, head and shoulders in an oval, by John Smith, 1702; mezzotint by John Faber, two states, both undated, one inscribed below to left: 'G. Kneller Eques Pinxit, and to right: 'J. Faber Fecit & Excud'.
External Link Oxford Portraits website
Id Number Current Accession 11
Measurements 57 x 91 in.
Sitter Biographical Notes James Butler, second Duke of Ormond (1665-1745)
Jacobite conspirator, politician and army officer
Artist Biographical Notes by Sir Godfrey Kneller (1646-1723)
Portrait painter, patrons, queens regnant and coronation
hon DCL 1795
Donor Biographical Notes Sir Godfrey Kneller (1646-1723)
Portrait painter, patrons, queens regnant, and coronation
hon DCL 1795
Relation References Founders [of Oxford & Cambridge] John Faber [43 mezzotints of portraits of founders of Oxford] ([1712-1714?]), fol.3; [Portraits of Founders of Oxford Colleges J. Faber fecit], ([1712-1714?]), fol.1; A. Wood, History and Antiquities of the University of
Rights University of Oxford
 

 

 

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