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Portrait of James Stanley, Seventh Earl of Derby

Date made: mid-late 17th century

Description: Stanley wears the full plate armour of a cuirassier or Heavy Cavalryman and in his right hand holds a baton. He is wearing a Lesser George, the insignia of the Order of the Garter (a badge depicting St George slaying the Dragon) on a gold chain around his neck. The KG in the inscription identifies him as a Knight of the Garter, an order to which he was admitted in 1650. The portrait confirms Stanley’s status as a commanding officer. It also shows him to be a true supporter of the Royalist cause and held in high esteem by his King.

A rocky outcrop forms the background along with an encampment of cavalry troops bearing the Royal Standard and the Stanley emblem of the Eagle and Child. James Stanley stands in the foreground as their commanding officer, possibly waiting to lead them into battle.

James Stanley, Seventh Earl of Derby was acquired by the Manx Museum in 1939 and is thought to have come from Quantock Lodge in Somerset, one of the seats of the Stanley family.

It is not known whether the portrait was painted before or after the execution of James Stanley in 1651. The inscription in the top right hand corner - listing Stanley’s titles, his military career and his execution - could make this a memorial painting commissioned shortly after the return of the Stanleys to the Isle of Man in the 1660s. The inscription may equally have been added to an earlier portrait painted when James was still alive. The same may be said about the inclusion of the insignia of the Order of the Garter, awarded only a year before his death.

Leaving aside the question of when it was painted this portrait delivers the strong, clear message that the Seventh Earl of Derby was a noble dignified soldier, loyal to his King and in the eyes of his family, a martyr to the Royalist cause.

Measurements: unframed artwork: 153 cm x 98 cm

Materials: oil on canvas

Object name: painting

Collection: Art Collection

ID number: 1954-7272

Subject tags : #mm100artcollection


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