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John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough; John Armstrong

4 of 7 portraits on display in the Hall at Beningbrough Hall

John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough; John Armstrong, after Enoch Seeman, circa 1720? - NPG 5318 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough; John Armstrong

after Enoch Seeman
oil on canvas, circa 1720?
91 in. x 77 in. (2311 mm x 1956 mm)
Purchased, 1980
Primary Collection
NPG 5318

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Artistback to top

  • Enoch Seeman (1689 or 1690-1744), Painter. Artist associated with 18 portraits, Sitter in 2 portraits.

This portraitback to top

This portrait shows the Duke of Marlborough, Commander-in Chief of the armed forces, with his chief engineer John Armstrong. Marlborough employed Armstrong in 1704 and was so impressed by his skill that he quickly promoted him. This portrait commemorates Armstrong's success at the siege of Bouchain in Flanders, in 1711. In one night Armstrong constructed a battery that destroyed the enemy's fortifications the next day. Marlborough expressed his gratitude by commissioning this portrait, which shows Armstrong holding a plan of Bouchain.

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Events of 1720back to top

Current affairs

Collapse of the South Sea Company's shares causes financial crisis in London and ruins many investors. Their rapid inflation and the speculation mania it had encouraged become known as the South Sea Bubble. Charles Townshend, 2nd Viscount Townshend returns to the Whig ministry. Robert Walpole 1st Earl of Orford, who had resigned in 1717, also returns and restores public credit in December.

Art and science

Entrepreneur Ralph Allen is appointed to take over the Cross and Bye Posts, which manage mail not going via London, leading to his eventual reform of the entire British postal system. History painter James Thornhill is appointed Serjeant Painter to the King and becomes the first British artist to receive a knighthood.


Treaty of the Hague signed between Britain, France, Austria, the Dutch Republic and Spain ending the War of the Quadruple Alliance. In Lhasa, the Dalai Lama accepts Chinese imperial protection, which lasts until 1911. Two political parties emerge in Sweden's parliament and become known as the Hats and the Caps.

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