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Ingamells: William Russell, 1st Duke of Bedford (1616-1700)

Catalogue entry by John Ingamells, one of a limited number of entries drafted in 2010 for the incomplete catalogue, Early Stuart Portraits 1625-1685, work on which will be resumed once funding is available.

William Russell, 1st Duke of Bedford (1616-1700)

Landowner and politician. Styled Lord Russell until 1641; KB 1626; travelled in Europe c.1633-35; MP 1640-41; succeeded as 5th Earl of Bedford 1641; fought at Edgehill 1642 for Parliament and at Newbury 1643 for the King, before withdrawing to Woburn in 1644 (no portrait of him is known between 1640 and 1675); KG 1672; his son, William Russell, implicated in the Rye House Plot, was executed 1683; created Duke of Bedford 1694; the development of his estate at Woburn remained a prime concern. ‘A graceful old nobleman, and his outside was all. He always had lived to himself’ (Memoirs of Thomas, Earl of Ailesbury).

298 By Sir Godfrey Kneller, circa 1692
Oil on canvas, 96½ x 60½ in. (2451 x 1537 mm), whole-length, wearing the red coronation robes of a Duke beneath the blue mantle of a Knight of the Order of the Garter, folded back on one side to reveal its white lining. The Duke wears the collar of the Order of the Garter, with a jewelled pendant, the Great George, showing Saint George killing the dragon. On the table is the plumed hat of a Garter Knight. The Garter is inscribed with the first two words of the motto of the order, 'Honi soit qui mal y pense'.

Signed, centre right (beneath plume): G Kneller (GK in monogram); inscribed on garter: HONI SOIT.

Kneller was extensively employed at Woburn, the Duke being amongst his earliest patrons. NPG 298 may perhaps be equated with the payment made to Kneller in December 1694 of thirty pounds for ‘His Grace the Duke of Bedford’s picture in whole length’ (Woburn archive; Thompson 1937, p.296; Stewart 1983, p.194).

Condition: relined 1961; vertical seams either side, approximately 35 mm from each edge; repaired tear below right wrist and scattered retouchings; discoloured varnish.

Collections: C.H. Waters, from whom purchased 1870 (probably the Kneller whole-length portrait in Garter robes, plumed hat on a table, a favourite spaniel beside him, offered for sale by Rodd in 1824 (Rodd 1824, p.3, no.ix).

Exhibitions: British Art, British Council, Prague/Bratislava/Vienna, 1969; Pittura Inglese, Milan, 1975, no.13; on loan at Beningbrough 1982-.

Literature: Piper 1963, p.25; Stewart 1983, no.81.

1824 Edward Luttrell, 1698
Pastel on copper, 15 x 12 in. (381 x 305 mm), head and shoulders, wearing a full-bottomed wig, the blue sash of a Knight of the Order of the Garter and, just visible to the right of the sash, the Star of the Order. Scratched signature and date, upper right: E. Lutterell [sic] fecit/ 1698.

The head from NPG 1824 was sketched in 1877 at Dover House by Scharf (SSB 81:17), who then first suggested the identity of the Duke of Bedford.

Condition: slight staining down left hand side.

Collections: George Agar Ellis, 1st Baron Dover (1797-1833); his son Henry, who succeeded as 3rd Viscount Clifden 1836; his daughter, Lilah, who married Luke, 3rd Baron Annaly, from whom purchased through Leggatt 1918.

Engraving: R. Williams (CS 6; reversed).

Literature: Piper 1963, p.25.


As William, Lord Russell

1627 Painting by Johann Priwitzer, whole-length standing, wearing Bath ribbon, with his dwarf, signed and dated; Woburn (Scharf 1890, no.170; illus. Collins Baker 1912, vol.1, f.p.62; Waterhouse 1988, p.220), exh. Age of Charles I, Tate, 1972, no.28.

c.1635 Painting by Van Dyck, with his brother-in-law George, 2nd Earl of Bristol, whole-length in red, wearing Bath ribbon, right hand on hip; Althorp (Althorp 1976, no.140; Van Dyck 2004, iv.92). A much copied composition, latterly including a drawing and enamel by Henry Bone 1820 at Woburn (Walker 1999, no.42) and enamels by Henry Pierce Bone dated 1837 (and 1836 verso; Sotheby’s, 11 July 1991, lot 281), and of Bedford alone 1848 (Bonham’s, 27 April 2005, lot 18).

c.1637 Painting by Van Dyck, three-quarter length seated, wearing the ribbon of the Bath, with his wife Anne; Wilton (Van Dyck 2004, iv.19). Probably in celebration of his marriage with Lady Anne Carr in 1637.

c.1640 Painting by Van Dyck, half-length, right hand at breast; Clifton Castle (Van Dyck 2004, iv.20, listing versions at Woburn, Blenheim, and Warwick Castle).

As 5th Earl of Bedford

1675 Painting by Peter Lely, three-quarter length, wearing an Indian gown; Woburn (Scharf 1890, no.172a, MS insert in NPG copy). A payment of £31 was made to Lely, by his lordship’s order, in June 1675; Woburn archive (Thompson 1937, p.294). Given to the sitter’s son and ‘found again in an auction room in the present [20th] century and placed among the Woburn collection’ (Ibid.).

1676 Painting by Peter Lely, whole-length in Garter robes, left hand on hip, right hand pointing left, inscribed; Woburn (Scharf 1890, no.172 as Kneller). Receipt for £60 from Lely for his lordship’s picture at length, May 1676; Woburn archive (Thompson 1937, p.295). Lely was then living in a house belonging to the Earl of Bedford in the Great Piazza, Covent Garden.

c.1680 Painting by Johann Kerseboom, whole-length standing in a landscape in military dress, a dog at his side, with troops drawn up for battle in the distance; Hardwick (illus. Collins Baker 1912, vol.2, f.p.50 as Edward, 5th Earl of Bedford).

c.1681 Painting by Godfrey Kneller, half-length painted oval, in armour; Weston Park (Stewart 1983, no.80). Receipt for £8 from Kneller for ‘his lordship’s picture’, 15 July 1682; Woburn archive (Thompson 1937, pp.295-96; Stewart 1983, p.191).

1686 Painting by Godfrey Kneller; untraced. Receipt for £10 from Kneller for ‘my lord the Earl of Bedford’s picture’, June 1686; Woburn archive (Thompson 1937, p.296; Stewart 1983, p.192).

1692 Painting by Godfrey Kneller, whole-length in Garter robes, right hand on hip, signed and dated; Ombersley Park (Stewart 1983, no.82, pl.43b). Probably related to the receipt for £40 from Kneller to the Earl of Bedford for ‘his lordship’s picture in length’, January 1693; Woburn archive (Thompson 1937, p.296; Stewart 1983, p.194).

c.1692 Painting by Godfrey Kneller, see NPG 298.

As 1st Duke of Bedford

1698 Pastel by Edward Luttrell, see NPG 1824.

1699 On 16 July 1699 the Duke’s daughter-in-law, Rachel, Lady Russell, wrote of him ‘I could almost be sorry my Lord had sat for his picture, for fear it is a trouble, and makes him weary: also I extremely desire it for my best room as its best ornament’ (to John Thornton; Letters of Lady Russell, 1853, ii, p.156).

c.1701 Marble monument by Francis Bird; Bedford Chapel, Chenies, Bucks (illus. Country Life, vol.172, 1982, p.1143). The head alone sketched by Scharf in 1877 (SSB 112:26).

In 1890 Scharf (1890, under no.172) listed an unattributed ‘well painted’ half-length, right hand holding Garter mantle, presented to the Scottish Corporation 1694 (destroyed by fire in 1877), and another ‘in advanced life, wearing armour,’ with Lord Arthur Russell (in a sketchbook of 1875, SSB 92:74).


Althorp 1976: Kenneth Garlick, 'A Catalogue of Pictures at Althorp', Walpole Society, vol.45, 1976.
Collins Baker 1912: C.H. Collins Baker, Lely and the Stuart Portrait Painters, 1912.
CS: John Chaloner Smith, British Mezzotinto Portraits, 1878-83.
Piper 1963: David Piper, Catalogue of Seventeenth-Century Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery 1625-1714, 1963.
Rodd 1824: H. Rodd, Catalogue of Authentic Portraits, 1824.
Scharf 1890: G. Scharf, Catalogue of Pictures at Woburn Abbey, 1890.
SSB: Scharf Sketch Book (National Portrait Gallery Archive)
Stewart 1983: J. Douglas Stewart, Sir Godfrey Kneller and the English Baroque Portrait, 1983.
Thompson 1937: G.Scott Thompson, Life in a Noble Household, 1937.
Van Dyck 2004: S.J. Barnes, N. De Poorter, O. Millar, H. Vey, Van Dyck, a Complete Catalogue of the Paintings, 2004.
Walker 1999: Richard Walker, 'Henry Bone's Pencil Drawings in the National Portrait Gallery', Walpole Society, vol.61, 1999, pp.305-67.


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