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George Stubbs, The Milbanke and Melbourne Families

Key facts
Full title Sir Peniston and Lady Lamb, Later Lord and Lady Melbourne, with Lady Lamb's Father, Sir Ralph Milbanke, and Her Brother John Milbanke ('The Milbanke and Melbourne Families')
Artist George Stubbs
Artist dates 1724 - 1806
Date made about 1769
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 97.2 × 147.3 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1975
Inventory number NG6429
Location Room 34
Collection Main Collection
The Milbanke and Melbourne Families
George Stubbs

This painting was most likely commissioned to commemorate the alliance of the Milbanke and Melbourne families through marriage in April 1769. The married woman is Elizabeth Milbanke (seated in a carriage on the left) and her husband is Peniston Lamb, 1st Lord Melbourne, mounted on a chestnut horse on the right. Elizabeth’s father, Sir Ralph Milbanke, stands beside her. The figure in the middle is most likely Elizabeth’s elder brother, John Milbanke.

Stubbs uses the branches of the large oak tree behind the figures to link the two families. Sir Ralph’s gaze across the picture towards his daughter’s husband, which is complemented by the upward glance of the dog, further unifies the group. The rocky outcrop on the right is a landscape feature that appears in a number of Stubbs’s paintings, but may also represent Creswell Crags, on the Nottinghamshire–Derbyshire border, alluding to Lord Melbourne’s connections with Derbyshire.

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