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George Keith, 10th Earl Marischal

(1693?-1778), Jacobite soldier

Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue Entry

Sitter in 1 portrait
A Jacobite soldier, who commanded cavalry at Sheriffmuir in 1715, and led the abortive Spanish Jacobite expedition to Scotland in 1719. He lived in exile in Spain and later in Prussia. His appointment by his friend Frederick the Great as Prussian ambassador at Paris caused ill-feeling in England.

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David Alston

30 April 2020, 09:45

The enslaved black boy in the portrait is wrongly identified in 'Early Georgian Portraits'. He is not Ibrahim (who was Turkish) but Mocho (also spelled Motcho and Motchô), who was given as a slave to the Earl Marischal by a fellow officer in Spanish military service, the Chevalier Blaise-Marie d'Aydie (1692–1761). The portrait is c1733. By 1736 Mocho was valet to the Earl Marischal's brother, James Keith, who had a distinguished military career in Spanish, Russian and Prussian service. Mocho is said to have served him ‘faithfully through all his campaigns’. This included the sack of Ochakow in the Ukraine, participation in the coup d’état of 1741 which brought the Empress Elizabeth to power in Russia, a short time as de facto viceroy of Finland, and then in Prussian service under Frederic the Great as a Field Marshall commanding the siege of Prague and the defence of Leipzig in the Seven Years War. Mocho returned to the household of the Earl Marischal, in Neuchatel, in 1758 after the death of James at the Battle of Hochkirk and probably outlived the Earl who died in 1778. Mocho would have been about 55 at that time.

He was part of the Earl’s remarkable 'Ménagerie of Young Heathen’ known to Voltaire, which included Emet Ullah (a Turkish girl), Stepan (a Buddhist Kalmyk) and Ibrahim (another Turk).

There is much more detail about them all - but it does seem to me that there is a remarkable opportunity here to reconstruct a partial biography of an apparently ‘unknown' black figure in a European painting.