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Later Stuart Portraits Catalogue

John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough (1650-1722), Soldier and statesman

Undefeated military commander, courtier and diplomat; admitted ‘extraordinary of the Kit Cat Club’ 1709; created Lord Churchill of Eyemouth [S] 1682; Baron Churchill 1685; Earl of Marlborough 1689; KG and Duke of Marlborough 1702; c.-in-c. allied forces in the Netherlands 1702-11, achieving victories at Blenheim 1704, Ramillies 1706, Oudenarde 1708 and Malplaquet 1709; dismissed 1711, the victim of ambition and political intrigue; in 1704 Queen Anne had rewarded him with the Royal manor of Woodstock where she signified her intention of building him a house to be called Blenheim (completed after much dispute in 1725).

‘He is indeed a very handsom proper well spoken, & affable person, & supplys his want of acquired knowledge by keeping good Company: In the mean time his Ambition & love of riches has no End’ (John Evelyn, 30 December 1703).

‘His handsome and delicate countenance [engaged] every one in his favour at first sight. He is about the middle height, and has the best figure in the world; his features are without fault, fine, sparkling eyes and good teeth … In short, apart from his legs, which are too thin, he is one of the handsomest men ever seen … His ambition knows no bounds’ (Sicco van Goslinga, 1711).


This extended catalogue entry is from the National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Ingamells, National Portrait Gallery: Later Stuart Portraits 1685-1714, National Portrait Gallery, 2009, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.