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Key facts
Full title Portrait of Lord George Stuart, 9th Seigneur of Aubigny
Artist Anthony van Dyck
Artist dates 1599 - 1641
Date made 1638
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 218.4 × 133.4 cm
Inscription summary inscribed
Acquisition credit On loan from the National Portrait Gallery: Purchased with help from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund, 1987
Inventory number L1300
Location Room 21
Art route(s) B
Image copyright On loan from the National Portrait Gallery: Purchased with help from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund, 1987
Collection Main Collection
Portrait of Lord George Stuart, 9th Seigneur of Aubigny
Anthony van Dyck

This life-size portrait shows Lord George Stuart (1618–1642), son of Esmé Stuart, 3rd Duke of Lennox, and the older brother of Lords John and Bernard Stuart (NG6518). Confidently gazing out at the viewer, Lord George wears a knee-length blue satin tunic, covered by a lively and voluminous gold cloak, fastened at the right shoulder with a ruby and pearl brooch. His elaborate boots are decorated with blue bows and he rests his right hand on a shepherd’s crook. Water gushes out from under the rock he casually leans on, to his right, a rose bush is in full bloom.

In 1638, around the time this portrait was painted, Lord George married Katherine Howard, the daughter of the 2nd Earl of Suffolk in secret. Lord George’s father-in-law and the king, Charles I, who was Lord George’s cousin and legal guardian were against the marriage. The Latin inscription on the rock translates as ‘Love is stronger than I am’, perhaps an allusion to the controversial marriage. Van Dyck includes a rose bush and a thistle (lower right) to symbolise the union of the English Howards (represented by the rose) and the Scottish Stuart family (the thistle).

Lord George’s sumptuous outfit, thrown into focus by the light that falls across the upper half of the painting, is to some degree at odds with the Arcadian setting. Pastoral scenery was popular in the visual culture of court life in England during the first half of the seventeenth century, which was dominated by Van Dyck since his arrival in London in 1632. The pensive and melancholic mood of the portrait somehow prefigures the sitter’s tragic fate: Lord George was killed at the Battle of Edgehill on 23 October 1642, at the age of just twenty-four.

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