Prince Ru­pert, Colonel Wil­liam Mur­ray and Colonel John Rus­sell by Wil­liam Dob­son

John Mcewen com­ments on Prince Ru­pert, Colonel Wil­liam Mur­ray and Colonel John Rus­sell

Country Life Every Week - - My Week -

‘I have al­ways been an ad­mirer of Wil­liam Dob­son’s ro­man­tic por­traits of my pre­de­ces­sor at Ry­cote, Mon­tagu Ber­tie, and of the other Caro­line great and good. Dur­ing the Civil War, Dob­son was in Ox­ford work­ing in my old col­lege, St John’s. The Ash­molean has just ac­quired its first Dob­son, this lav­ish group por­trait. I am fas­ci­nated by the drama clearly vis­i­ble on the sub­jects’ faces and in­trigued by the events that led to the paint­ing of this scene. Bravo to all in­volved in re­turn­ing this fan­tas­tic and iconic paint­ing to Ox­ford and my imag­i­na­tion will run riot ev­ery time I walk past it

Wil­liam Dob­son is praised in aubrey’s Brief Lives. aubrey de­scribed the artist’s fa­ther as ‘a very in­ge­nious per­son (mas­ter of alien­ation of­fice); but he spend­ing his es­tate upon women, ne­ces­sity forced his son Will Dob­son to be the most ex­cel­lent Pain­ter that Eng­land hath yet bred’. Dob­son’s ma­ter­nal grand­fa­ther was also note­wor­thy, a prom­i­nent mem­ber of the mer­cers’ Com­pany, the pre­mier liv­ery com­pany.

Dob­son served a seven-year ap­pren­tice­ship in Hol­born to Wil­liam Peake, son of Robert Peake, ser­jeant-pain­ter to James i. He then moved to st martin’s Lane in the par­ish of st martin-in-theFields, close to the royal Court at White­hall, a pop­u­lar ad­dress for Court of­fi­cials and artists seek­ing royal pa­tron­age. among his neigh­bours were the sur­veyor of the King’s Pic­tures and the Ger­man-born artist Fran­cis Cleyn, to whom he was an as­sis­tant.

Dur­ing the Civil War, the Court was ex­iled to ox­ford, where Dob­son re­placed the re­cently dead Van Dyck as its favourite por­traitist. among his first sit­ters were Charles i and his nephew, the Roy­al­ists’ dash­ing cavalry com­man­der, Prince Ru­pert. in 1645, Ru­pert sur­ren­dered bris­tol and he and his staff of­fi­cers, mur­ray and Rus­sell, were dis­missed by the King. sub­se­quently, Ru­pert was of­fi­cially ex­on­er­ated and re­ceived a royal par­don.

This cli­mac­tic group por­trait (rare for Dob­son) was com­mis­sioned by the seated Rus­sell to cel­e­brate the par­don, which Ru­pert holds. Loy­alty to the Roy­al­ist cause, the Prince and friend­ship is sym­bol­ised by mur­ray stain­ing his cock­ade in a fra­ter­nal glass of blood-red wine. The pic­ture has now been ac­quired by the ash­molean, its first Dob­son.

Bernard Tay­lor is Chair­man of the Ash­molean Mu­seum in Ox­ford and lives at Ry­cote Park near Thame. He has re­cently been awarded a CBE

Prince Ru­pert (1619–82), Colonel Wil­liam Mur­ray (dates un­known) and Colonel John Rus­sell (1620– 81), 1645, by Wil­liam Dob­son (1611–46), 59¼in by 78¼ in, Ash­molean Mu­seum, Ox­ford

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.