This painting copies a single figure taken from a large family portrait of the first Duchess of Buckingham, her three children and her late husband, painted in 1633 by Sir Anthony van Dyck.
Our portrait of the youngest child of the Duke, born after his father was assassinated, is attributed to the Dutch painter Adriaen Hanneman, who had been an assistant in London of van Dijck. Was our single portrait painted by him in London or after Hanneman’s return to The Hague in 1638? Many exiled English Royalist noblemen lived there between 1642 and 1660 during the English Civil War. Our Lord Francis Villiers died in a battle near London in 1648, aged nineteen.
About Adriaen Hanneman
The Hague circa 1604 – 1671 The Hague
Portrait painter and painter of some allegories.
Pupil of Anthonie van Ravesteyn (circa 1580 – 1669).
Hanneman’s career was divided between London and The Hague.
At a young age, in 1626, he left for London, where her remained until 1638. At first he was a pupil-assistant of the Dutch portrait painter Daniel Mytens I (circa 1590 – 1647). Mytens was court painter of King James I since circa 1620 and after 1625 of King Charles I.
After the arrival of Anthony van Dyck (1599 – 1641) in London in 1632 Mytens was rapidly surpassed by his young rival. That same year van Dyck was already appointed court painter and elevated into nobility by King Charles I. Mytens returned permanently to The Hague in 1634. Hanneman joined van Dyck as his assistant (and pupil); he was strongly influenced by him.
In 1638 Hanneman returned to his native The Hague. The Hague was the residence of the Stadtholder (and of his court and of foreign diplomats) and of the States of Holland, the highest sovereign power within the Dutch Republic. Hanneman joined the local Painter’s Guild in 1640. Meanwhile in England the political and religious discord between King Charles I and Parliament worsened, leading to the English Civil War (fought between 1642 and 1651). Hanneman regularly worked for English exiles in The Hague; they stayed here until Charles II came to power in 1660.
In the Dutch Republic the period between 1650 and 1672 was the first Stadtholderless Period. During this age the Republic reached its zenith of economic and military power.
In 1656 fourty-eight fine painters dissociated themselves from the traditional Painter’s Guild of The Hague for it did not defend their rights correctly; the so-called decorative painters continued to register in or to join the ancient Guild. Hanneman was the first dean of the newly created Confrerie Pictura.
Hanneman married three times:
- in 1630 in London to Elisabeth Wilson,
- in 1640 in The Hague to Maria van Ravesteyn, daughter of his first Master Jan van Ravesteyn,
- in 1669 in The Hague to Alida Besemer.
He had many pupils, amongst them Reinier de la Haye (circa 1640 – after 1695).
About the local portrait market in The Hague
The local market was dominated by three elder portrait painters:
- our Adriaen Hanneman, who had many English contacts;
- Pieter Nason (1612 – 1688/90), who often portrayed foreign ambassadors and officers.
- Jan Mijtens (circa 1614 – 1670), who was well-known for his family portraits.
Circa 1660 appeared a young painter, Jan de Baen (1633 – 1702), who rapidly overclassed these three competitors.
I should also mention Caspar Netscher (circa 1635/39 – 1684), who specialised in small portraits influenced by contemporary French painters. He arrived at The Hague in 1662, he produced at first mainly genre scenes, but turned to portrait painting around 1670.
About our Lord Francis Villiers
Francis Villiers (1629 – 1648) was the second and youngest son of George Villiers, the first Duke of Buckingham. George I was the closest advisor and favourite of King James I. Under his successor, King Charles I, he was an incompetent and therefore unpopular Lord Admiral and Foreign Minister. He was assassinated, just before reaching the age of 36, at Portsmouth by the renegade officer John Felton. At that time his eldest son, George II, was only seven months old, our Francis was not yet born. Both children were brought up in the royal household of Charles I, together with the King's own children, the future kings Charles II and James II.
Under the care of the Earl of Northumberland, George II and Francis travelled abroad and lived in Florence and Rome. When the Second English Civil War broke out they joined 600 Royalists under the command of Henry Rich, 1st Earl of Holland in Surrey, in July 1648 in their uprise against Parliament, known as the Insurrection at Kingston Upon Thames. Francis Villiers unfortunately died in the battle. He had not even reached the age of twenty. His brother, George, lived until 1687.
About our painting
Our portrait copies the child’s portrait of Lord Francis Villiers in the large composition painted by Sir Anthony van Dyck around 1633 representing his parents and their three children.
At the centre sits his mother, Katherine Manners, Duchess of Buckingham, Marchioness of Antrim, 18th Baroness de Ros of Helmsley (circa 1603-1649) as a widow of his father, George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham (1592-1628) whose oval portrait hangs on the wall next to her.
The three children are:
- Mary Villiers, later Duchess of Richmond and Duchess of Lennox (1622-1695), standing at right,
- George Villiers, later 2nd Duke of Buckingham and 20th Baron de Ros (1628-1687) standing between his sister and his mother,
- at left the youngest child, our Lord Francis Villiers (1629-1648).
One can only guess why the portrait of Francis Villiers was copied seperately from that large composition. Was it painted in London or later in The Hague?
Two years after this large family portrait, in 1635, van Dyck painted a double portrait of Francis and his elder brother George.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because it is a touching child’s portrait of a minor historic figure who sadly died before reaching the age of twenty.