Unknown man, formerly known as James Scott, Duke of Monmouth and Buccleuch

1 portrait

Unknown man, formerly known as James Scott, Duke of Monmouth and Buccleuch, by Unknown artist, circa 1640s - NPG 1566 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Unknown man, formerly known as James Scott, Duke of Monmouth and Buccleuch

by Unknown artist
oil on canvas, circa 1640s
22 1/4 in. x 26 1/4 in. (565 mm x 667 mm)
Purchased, 1910
Primary Collection
NPG 1566


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This unusual portrait of a man on his deathbed was thought to depict James Scott, Duke of Monmouth, the eldest illegitimate son of Charles II. He was beheaded for leading the Monmouth Rebellion in 1685. However, the length of the hair and style of this portrait suggest a date in the 1640s. Therefore this portrait cannot represent Monmouth.
Deathbed portraiture had some popularity in the 1640s; it helped to secure the reputation of the deceased and provide a visual memory for the bereaved. The identity of the sitter is not known but one possibility is the nobleman Edward Sackville (c. 1623-1646), brother of the 5th Earl of Dorset. Sackville was killed fighting for the Royalists in the civil war. His marriage to Bridget Wray may explain the Wray family's subsequent ownership of this portrait. However, lack of further evidence means that this identification remains inconclusive.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Cooper, Tarnya (introduction) Banville, John (character sketch) Chevalier, Tracy (character sketch) Fellowes, Julian (character sketch) McCall Smith, Alexander (character sketch) Pratchett, Terry (character sketch) Singleton, Sarah (character sketch) Trollope, Joanna (character sketch) Waters, Minette (character sketch), Imagined Lives: Portraits of Unknown People, 2011 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from December 2011 - June 2012), p. 77
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 692

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top