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by Sir James Thornhill, Charles Butler, first Earl of Arran

Core Record

Title Charles Butler, first Earl of Arran
Collection Oxford Portraits: University of Oxford
Artist by Sir James Thornhill
Date 1727
Acquisition possibly given by Sir James Thornhill, c.1727
Description Whole length, standing facing viewer, head turned slightly to right; white periwig falling to shoulders; lace cravat and ruffles; scarlet and ermine peer's robes over cloth-of-gold coat; red velvet breeches; white silk stockings and shoes with gold buckles and red heels; his left hand on his hip, his right points to his patent of election as Chancellor of the University which lies upon a pedestal to left, on the front of which is carved the Butler shield of arms. Architectural background including fluted pilasters and arch, through which a view of the Sheldonian Theatre. Frame surmounted by coronet.

The portrait commemorates the Earl of Arran's election as Chancellor of the University in 1715. It was signed and dated by the artist in 1727, and was included in George Vertue's list of portraits in the Bodleian Library compiled between 1741 and 1752. In the absence of any record of the acquisition of the portrait, the possibility remains that it may have been given by the artist, Sir James Thornhill, who gave a portrait of the Earl's grandfather, James Butler, first Duke of Ormond, to the University the following year, 1728.

According to John Gutch, the portrait of the first Duke of Ormond given by Thornhill was painted by Ryley. (See Wood, p.958) According to Mrs Lane Poole Thornhill gave a portrait of the first Duke of Ormond by Kneller. (See Lane Poole, I, p.66, no.165). Mrs Lane Poole noted further that 'The Vice-Chancellor's accounts for 1727-8 show an item: "Paid expenses about D. of Ormd's Picture and carrying to and from London £5. 5. 6', and 'Paid to West at London, frame maker, £10. 15s', so that it probably had to be sent to London for framing.' (ibid.)

[Jacob: as the portrait of the first Duke of Ormond was of a kit-kat size (36 x 28 inches), is it likely that the frame would have incurred such a heavy cost? Would you be able to confirm whether the frame on the portrait of the first Duke of Ormond or that of the Earl of Arran is by West?]
External Link Oxford Portraits website
Id Number Current Accession 12
Inscription 1. On scroll: ’INSTRUMENTUM ELECTIONIS ILLUS. DOM: CAR: BUTLER COM: ARRAN IN CANCELLARIUM UNIVERSITATIS OXON: Xo DIE SEPT. A.D. MDCCXV. BERNARD. GARDINER LL.D. ALMAE UNIVERSITATIS VICE CANCELLARIUS &C CAETERIQ. DOCTORES MAGISTRI REGENTES. ILLo DOMINO CAROLO R. ARRAN &C.’ 2. Beside the patent lie two volumes inscribed: ’STAT: UNIVERSIT: OXON:’ and ’HISTOR. ANTIQ. UNIV. OXON.’ 3. Signed and dated: ’I. THORNHILL Eqs FT. 1727’.
Measurements 56 x 91 in.
Sitter Biographical Notes Charles Butler, first Earl of Arran (1671-1758)
Army officer
The second son of Thomas, Earl of Ossory, and brother of James, Duke of Ormond (see OP27); created Baron Butler in the English, and Earl of Arran in the Irish peerage, 1693; Chancellor of the University, 1715.
Artist Biographical Notes by Sir James Thornhill (1675/6-1734)
Painter
Donor Biographical Notes Sir James Thornhill (1675/6-1734)
Painter
Relation Exhibition Oxford Exhibition of Historical Portraits, Examination Schools, Oxford, 1906, no.92
Relation References A. Wood, History and Antiquities of the University of Oxford ed. by J. Gutch, 2 vols (1792-1796), II, p.958; Illustrated catalogue of a loan collection of portraits of English historical personages who died between 1714 and 1837: exhibited in the Examina
Rights University of Oxford
 

 

 

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