Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue: Marischal

George Keith, 10th Earl Marischal (1693?-1778)

Jacobite, last Earl Marischal; succeeded to earldom, 1712; commanded cavalry at Sheriffmuir, 1715; led Spanish Jacobite expedition of 1719; retired, after Glenshiel, to the continent where he became intimate of Frederick the Great; named Prussian ambassador at Paris, 1751, governor of Neufchatel, 1752, and ambassador at Madrid, 1758; pardoned by George II, 1759; succeeded to Kintore estates, 1761, but recalled to Prussia by Frederick, 1764.

552 Attributed to Placido Costanzi, c.1733
Oil on copper, 17 3/8 x 12 5/8 in. (442 x 321 mm); brown eyes and eyebrows, long nose, short white wig or hair; red cloak lined with ermine over suit of armour, buttoned gaiters, a baton in his right hand; beside him a Negro boy holding the bridle of a prancing horse; helmet and shield, left foreground, the latter inscribed PLACIT [VERI] TAS VINCIT, a castle and cavalry battle in background.

An inscription, now illegible, on a stone, bottom right, might be a signature and date.

A portrait by Costanzi with a copy of it apparently being made for him by Mosman [1] are mentioned by the sitter in 1733 when he was on a mission to Madrid for the 'Old Pretender'. A small whole length on copper with the same date in the Kintore collection, Keith Hall, is unlikely to be by Mosman who is known to have worked only on canvas. It is without signature and close to NPG 552 and may have been at Keith Hall since 1764 when Marischal re-purchased the house following reversal of the attainder of 1719. Both portraits are perhaps by the same hand.

No evidence is known to support the view of Scharf [2] and Caw [3] that NPG552 may have been painted in Rome as late as 1752. The castle in the background is the family seat of Dunothar, near Stonehaven. The black groom is probably Ibraham described by Voltaire [4] as 'a sort of Tartar footman who has the honour of being a heathen' in the retinue of the Earl Marischal. A life-size head and shoulders of the sitter, unattributed but evidently related to NPG 552 is at Meldrum House, Aberdeenshire. Placido Costanzi, a pupil of Benedetto Luti, died in Rome, 1759.

Condition: cleaned, restored and varnished, 1879 and 1895.

Collections: Transferred, 1879, from the British Museum to whom presentedby Lord Glenbervie.

Literature: J. Taylor, The Scottish Friend of Frederick the Great, 1889; E. Cuthnell, Memoirs of Marischal Keith, 1915; J.L. Caw, Scottish Portraits, 1903.


A whole length at Marischal College, Aberdeen, corresponds with the engraving by J. Simon (CS 92) after P. Parrocel (d.1739). On costume and the youthful appearance of the sitter the portrait is datable to 1715-20 and is probably the prototype associated with the Jacobite expeditions of 1715-19. The type has been given to Rigaud and in the 19th century was also attributed to Trevisani, an artist popular with the exiled Jacobites c.1720.Among various repetitions, the portrait at Keith Hall was so attributed at both the 'NPE' 1867 (206) and the 'Historical Portraits' exhibition, Aberdeen, 1859 (105). Another and superior example of the type is the three-quarter length portrait in the Scottish NPG (311). A painting by Cosmo Alexander showing the sitter with the Thistle, signed and dated CALexr pinxit Paris A.D. 1752, is at Cumloden, by descent from Keith's brother-in-law, the 6th Earl of Galloway. A copy dated 1759 by John Medina the elder (died Edinburgh, 1764) was, at one time, at Douglas Castle. An ivory medallion in the British Museum, sculptor unknown, may prove rightly named.


1. RA Stuart Papers, Windsor, correspondence kindly communicated by the Hon. Miss Clare Stuart-Wortley, 1942.
2. Scharf, p.255.
3. Caw, II, pp.10-12.
4. NPG archives, picture dossier.