Joshua Reynolds (1723 - 1792)
- The 4th Duke of Queensberry ('Old Q') as Earl of March
- Oil on canvas
- Image size: 91 x 67.5 cm
Frame size: 122 x 102 cm
- Reserve Gallery
- William Douglas (1725-1810), 3rd Earl of March, became 4th Duke of Queensberry in 1778. He was Lord of the Bedchamber to King George III between 1760 and 1789 and was also a friend of the Prince of Wales. The owner of a well-known stud farm, the Earl was a notorious rake and gambler. He never married and was almost certainly the father of Maria Fagnani, who became the 3rd Marchioness of Hertford, to whom he gave considerable amounts of money and property – and, it is believed, this portrait. In the last twenty years of his life, he was the subject of numerous satirical prints and also earned the nickname ‘Old Q.’
The present picture represents the Earl in a three-quarter profile, wearing his peer’s robes. His coronet is displayed on a table to the left of the picture. The costume appears to have been painted by a drapery painter rather than by Reynolds himself (by c. 1760, Reynolds was in high demand as a portraitist and increasingly delegated work to drapery painters and studio assistants).Technical analysis of the present picture has revealed that Reynolds made final adjustments to the folds of the fabric and the position of the ermine spots. The Order of the Thistle, which Lord March received in 1763, were added later and probably not by Reynolds's hand.
Characteristic of Reynolds's portraiture of c. 1750- c. 1760 is the fading of the pink tones of the sitter’s face, a result of his use of red lake. In contrast, the drapery – where the same red lake pigment was applied as a pure layer of glaze – has retained its colour.
The portrait was probably bequeathed to the 3rd Marchioness of Hertford in 1810.