Fig. 5, Sir Anthony van Dyck, Double-portrait of Mountjoy Blount, 1st Earl of Newport (c. 1597-1666) and George, Lord Goring (1608-57), Petworth House, Sussex, The Egremont Collection (The National Trust), oil on canvas, 128.3 x 151.1 cm
The sketch and ensuing portrait can be dated to 1639 on the basis of the martial
trappings that obviously refer to the sitters’ role in the First Bishops’ War in that year,
hostilities that were a foretaste of the English Civil War.21 Goring, the eldest son of
George Goring, 1st Earl of Norwich, who had been made a colonel in the Dutch army
through the efforts of his father-in-law, Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork and was
wounded at the Siege of Breda in 1637, returned to England early in 1639 and was
made governor of Portsmouth. The statesman, diplomat and historian Edward Hyde, 1st
Earl of Clarendon (1609-74) gave a rather derogatory description of his character,
writing that he ‘would, without hesitation, have broken any trust, or done any act of
treachery to have satisfied an ordinary passion or appetite’.
Fig. 6, Sir Anthony van Dyck, Double-portrait of Mountjoy Blount, 1st Earl of Newport (c. 1597-1666) and George, Lord Goring (1608-57), The Newport Restoration Foundation, Newport, Rhode Island, oil on canvas, 121.9 x 144.8 cm
Related to the double-portrait in Petworth is the one in The Newport Restoration
Foundation, Newport, Rhode Island, showing Newport frontally and Goring in profile
view (fig. 6).22 Around this same time both Newport and Goring had themselves
portrayed individually. Newport is shown at full length in front of his army tent with
soldiers in the background holding his baton of command (fig. 7).23 Goring’s other
portrait is a simple bust piece, showing the sitter in cuirass.24 All these portraits display
such clear allusions to the battlefield in Scotland that one suspects they were especially
commissioned to convey royalist propaganda and bring across the sitters’ loyalty to the
It is noteworthy that Van Dyck’s first biographer Giovanni Pietro Bellori (1613-96)
mentions a double portrait of Newport and Goring: ‘Dipinse il Generale Gorino in atto
di parlementare, e’l Conte di Nenport [he painted General Goring in the act of
negotiating, and the Earl of Newport’. This probably refers to the painting in Petworth
House. On the same page Bellori also describes Van Dyck’s single portrait of Newport
in New Haven: ‘Conte di Nenport Gran Maestro dell’ artigliere, che dà ordine àgli
Ufficiali, fintovi indietro due figure armate [Earl of Newport Grand Master of the
Artillery, who provides Ordnance for the officers, concealed there behind two armed
figures]’.25 It is no doubt symbolic of the importance of Newport’s and Goring’s
patronage of Van Dyck that Bellori specifically mentions them as clients and describes
Fig. 7, Sir Anthony van Dyck, Mountjoy Blount, 1st Earl of Newport (c. 1597-1666), New Haven (CT), Yale Center for British Art, oil on canvas, 214 x 129 cm
The present oil sketch probably represents a first thoughts for the portrait in Petworth
House. It could have been used as a proposal to show the sitters. Apparently, it became
the subject of discussion between the artist and the sitters because there are several
significant changes in dress and pose between the sketch and finished painting. It is
conceivable that Van Dyck ultimately fell back on drawing the new composition on
coloured paper that he could hand over to his studio assistants for transferring onto the
canvas. The most poignant difference is that the poses of the sitters in the sketch are
much more dynamic. Furthermore, in the sketch Newport and Goring are dressed in full
armour. The staunch column – the standard symbol of Fortitudo (Latin: strength) - ,
alluding no doubt to the sitters’ valor, has been replaced in the final painting with a
curtain. The warlike character, in short, was reduced in favour of focus on the friendship
between the two sitters.
Van Dyck had begun to paint three-quarter double-portraits of adult men during his
Italian period. His earliest, the portrait of the brothers Lucas and Cornelis de Wael, was
probably based on Raphael’s well-known Self-Portrait with Friend (Paris, Louvre) but
nonetheless strikingly innovative in its informality.26 It was only in the 1630s that Van
Dyck began to fully explore the formula of the double friendship portrait of two men. A
highpoint in the genre is Van Dyck’s Self-Portrait with Endymion Porter of 1633.
The motif of the page who is tying Goring’s sash was plausibly inspired by some
example of sixteenth-century Venetian portraiture and Van Dyck’s use of it would lead
to another new life in works by Robert Walker (1595/1610-1658), such as his portrait of
Oliver Cromwell that exists in various versions and other military portraits by his
hand.28 It was Sir Peter Lely (1618-80), Van Dyck’s successor as the dominant portrait
painter at the Stuart court, who adopted Newport’s pose for several portraits.29 These
borrowings sufficiently demonstrate the great success of Van Dyck’s composition.
Our sketch remains a fascinating document of a genius at work. In a letter Malcom
Rogers calls it: ‘a painting of great freshness and delicacy, painted with a well nigh
breathless quality that speaks to the agility of Van Dyck’s hand and mind’.
1 According to the entry in the catalogue for the sale, London (Sotheby’s), 18 May 2020, no. 87.
2 Alsteens 2016, p. 37, note 121.
3 Not including the more detailed studies in oil in colour and those made for the Iconographie, around
fifteen such works are preserved, see S.J. Barnes et al., Van Dyck: a complete catalogue of the paintings,
New Haven 2004, nos. II.69, III.16, III.21, III.23, III.27, III.36, III.40, III.42, III.48, III.53, III.59, III.63,
4 An exception is Van Dyck’s sketch on canvas in which he recorded the likenesses of Princess Elizabeth
and Princess Anne from life: Barnes et al. 2004, no. IV.63.
5 Barnes et al. 2004, pp. 208-09, no. II.69.
6 Barnes et al. 2004, p. 374, no. III.169.
7 Barnes et al. 2004, pp. 380-01, no. III.178.
8 Unpublished except for the mention in Alsteens 2016, p. 37, note 121 and the website of the Royal
9 Barnes et al. 2004, p. 476, no. IV.59.
10 Alsteens 2016, p. 7. Study of a Standing Man, Washington, National Gallery of Art. See: New York
2016, pp. 67-69, no. 6.
11 Washington, Smithsonian American Art Museum, oil on canvas, 43 x 31 cm. Barnes et al. 2004, no.
12 Paris, Musée des Beaux-Arts de la ville de Paris, Petit Palais, brush and brown ink over black chalk and
graphite, 396 x 263 mm. See: New York 2016, pp. 88-89, no. 14.
13 Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, pen and brown ink, 157 x 108 mm. See: New York 2016, pp. 97-99, no.
14 For which see K. Hearn (ed.), Van Dyck and Britain, exh. cat. London (Tate) 2009, pp. 52-55, where
the sketches are erroneously dated later than the portraits in the captions of the drawings.
15 Both Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, both canvas, 52 x 46 cm. Barnes et al. 2004, pp. 388-89, nos.
16 Quote taken from Alsteens 2016, p. 18.
17 Quote taken from Alsteens 2016, p. 27.
19 Alsteens 2016, p. 29.
20 Barnes et al. 2004, p. 562, no. IV.171. See for a more recent discussion of the double-portrait: London
2009, p. 124, no. 58.
21 The dendrochronological analysis of our panel indicates it was ready for use by 1627. Report by Peter
Klein of Hamburg University, dated 16 June 2020.
22 Barnes et al. 2004, p. 563, no. 172.
23 Barnes et al. 2004, p. 561, no. IV.169.
24 Barnes et al. 2004, p. 514, no. IV.107. This picture was sold 8 December 2010 in London with
Sotheby’s (no. 17).
25 G.P. Bellori, Le vite de' pittori scultori et architetti moderni, Rome 1672, p. 260. The translations taken
from Barnes et al. 2004, pp. 561-62.
26 Barnes et al. 2004, pp. 210-11, no. II.71.
27 Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado. Barnes et al. 2004, no. IV.6.
28 An example offering a parallel with a page fastening armour is the Portrait of Gaston de Foix by an
artist from Giorgione’s circle in Castle Howard. For Walker’s portraits, see: London 2009, p. 185.
29 As noted in Barnes et al. 2004, p. 562.
30 Letter of 17 November 2020 in our possession.