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Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680)
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Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680)

Portrait of Henry Fitzroy, Earl of Euston, 1st Duke of Grafton (1663-1690), three-quarter-length, in brown robes

Details
Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680)
Portrait of Henry Fitzroy, Earl of Euston, 1st Duke of Grafton (1663-1690), three-quarter-length, in brown robes
oil on unlined canvas
49¾ x 40½ in. (126.5 x 103 cm.)

Lot Essay

The identification of the sitter as Henry Fitzroy is based on comparison with a black chalk drawing of him, when a boy, after Sir Peter Lely (?), in the National Portrait Gallery, London (National Portrait Gallery complete illustrated catalogue, compiled by K.K. Yung, London, 1981, p.234, no. 2915).

Henry Fitzroy, afterwards Duke of Grafton, the second son of King Charles II by Barbara Villiers, Countess of Castelmaine, afterwards Duchess of Cleveland, was born on 20 September 1633 and was, apparently afer some hesitation, acknowledged by the King as his son. On 1 August 1672, in the presence of the King and Court, he was married to Isabella, daughter and heiress of Henry Bennet, Earl of Arlington, and on the 16th of that month was created Earl of Euston, the title being derived from Arlington's house in Suffolk. He was created Duke of Grafton in September 1675. Grafton entered the Navy and, on the death of Prince Rupert became Vice-Admiral. He became captain of the Grafton, a ship of 70 guns in 1683, and won experience of military service at the siege of Luxembourg. He acted as Lord High Constable at the coronation of King James II and assisted in the repression Monmouth's rebellion. However, angered by Dartmouth being preferred to him in the command of the fleet, he signed the petition against King James II for a 'free and regular parliament'. Churchill and Grafton were suspected of being party to the conspiracy against the King, and fled to join William at Axminster on 24 November 1780. Grafton was one of 49 lords who voted for a Regency but tooks oaths to King William and Queen Mary the same day and carried the orb at their coronation. Grafton joined Churchill, now Duke of Marlborough, on his expedition to the South of Ireland in the autumn of 1690 and was fatally wounded during the battle to take Cork and died on 9 October 1690.

Grafton was generally considered to be the most popular and most able of the sons of King Charles II, his reckless daring, strong character and honest temperament were much admired by his contemporaries. He was succeded by his only son, Charles, born on 25 November 1683.

We are grateful to Sir John Guinness for suggesting the identity of the sitter.
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