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Unknown man, formerly known as James Scott, Duke of Monmouth and Buccleuch

2 of 3 portraits matching '1566'

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Unknown man, formerly known as James Scott, Duke of Monmouth and Buccleuch

by Unknown artist
oil on canvas, circa 1640s
22 1/4 in. x 26 1/4 in. (565 mm x 667 mm)
Purchased, 1910
Primary Collection
NPG 1566

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Unknown artist, Artist. Artist or producer associated with 6577 portraits.

This portraitback to top

This unusual portrait of a man on his deathbed was thought to depict James Scott, Duke of Monmouth, the eldest illegitimate son of Charles II. He was beheaded for leading the Monmouth Rebellion in 1685. However, the length of the hair and style of this portrait suggest a date in the 1640s. Therefore this portrait cannot represent Monmouth.
Deathbed portraiture had some popularity in the 1640s; it helped to secure the reputation of the deceased and provide a visual memory for the bereaved. The identity of the sitter is not known but one possibility is the nobleman Edward Sackville (c. 1623-1646), brother of the 5th Earl of Dorset. Sackville was killed fighting for the Royalists in the civil war. His marriage to Bridget Wray may explain the Wray family's subsequent ownership of this portrait. However, lack of further evidence means that this identification remains inconclusive.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Smartify image discovery app
  • Cooper, Tarnya (introduction) Banville, John (character sketch) Chevalier, Tracy (character sketch) Fellowes, Julian (character sketch) McCall Smith, Alexander (character sketch) Pratchett, Terry (character sketch) Singleton, Sarah (character sketch) Trollope, Joanna (character sketch) Waters, Minette (character sketch), Imagined Lives: Portraits of Unknown People, 2011 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from December 2011 - June 2012), p. 77
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 692

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Events of 1640back to top

Current affairs

Second Bishops' War. James Graham, Marquess of Montrose, leading the Scottish armies, occupies northeast of England. Defeat at the Battle of Newburn forces impoverished Charles to sign Treaty of Ripon.
Long Parliament. Habeas Corpus Act is passed, abolishing the Star Chamber. Impeachment of Royalists, Earl of Strafford and Archbishop Laud.

Art and science

Author, James Howell, writes Dodona's Grove, a historical allegory of events since 1603. A renowned royalist, Howell's anti-parliamentary remarks in the book would later attract accusations from parliamentarians.
The last Caroline masque before the outbreak of civil war, Salmacida Spolia by Sir William Davenant, is performed at Whitehall Palace.


Frederick William becomes Elector of Brandenburg and Duke of Prussia. The Elector's policy of religious tolerance benefited his state during the religious struggles dominating the Thirty Years' War.
The Bay Psalm Book is published, the first book to be printed in British North America.

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