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Thomas Flatman (1637-88)

Portrait of a Man, called Archibald Campbell, 9th Earl of Argyll (1629-1685) c.1670

Watercolour on vellum laid on card | 6.5 x 5.1 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external) | RCIN 420932

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  • The sitter is thought to be Archibald Campbell, 9th Earl of Argyll (1629–85), Master of the King's Household in Scotland, an office that is the hereditary right of the Earls of Argyll. The style of the wig points to a date of c.1670, and although the sitter resembles Argyll, he appears to be too young for the identification to be certain. As a Scottish Privy Councillor and one of John Maitland, 1st Duke of Lauderdale's chief supporters, Argyll was required to attend the meetings of the Privy Council that were held at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Argyll had fought for Charles II at the battle of Worcester, but in spite of his Royalist credentials, he constantly fell under suspicion after the Restoration on account of his judicial powers in the Highlands and his strong Presbyterian sympathies. In 1685 he supported the Duke of Monmouth's unsuccessful rebellion against James II and, with Monmouth, was executed for treason.

    The miniature is highly characterisitc of Thomas Flatman's work of this period and belongs with a group of miniatures which include the Unknown Man dated 1675 in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford and John Lee Warner of c.1670 in the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. In common with these works, Flatman has chosen a statuesque presentation of the sitter, who is brought forward prominently in the picture plane and set before an open landscape on the right. Flatman's subdued range of colour tones derives from Samuel Cooper. The neat, graphic qualities of Flatman's brushwork, typical of his work as a whole, combined with the compostional features, create a sense of frozen formality and a sombre, but unpretentious, mood which permeates much of his work.

    Signed in gold on the left: 'TF' (monogram).

    Text adapted from Charles II: Art and Power, London 2017.

    Provenance

    First recorded in the Royal Collection during the reign of Queen Victoria as a portrait of Lucius, Lord Falkland, c.1837

  • Medium and techniques

    Watercolour on vellum laid on card

    Measurements

    6.5 x 5.1 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external)

    7.7 x 6.4 cm (frame, external)

  • Alternative title(s)

    Lucius, Viscount Falkland (1610?-1643), previously identified as