Favourites: Art and Power, 1600-1800
18 July 2014 - 26 July 2015
George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham
attributed to William Larkin, and studio of William Larkin
The portraits in this display show men who were invested as Knights of the Order of the Garter. Established by King Edward III in 1348, the Order of the Garter has existed for over 650 years. It’s foundation was inspired by the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. The first knights were the king’s most trusted military commanders at a time of war with France. With the number of knights limited to twenty-four, plus members of the royal family, the Order of the Garter has always been the highest honour available to courtiers and public figures. These portraits, each showing their subject in the robes and regalia of the Order, reflect the status and prestige to be derived from membership. Yet, with each of these sitters, the favouritism of the monarch proved controversial and precarious.
© National Portrait Gallery, London