William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Devonshire, KG, PC, (1640-1707)
Sir Godfrey Kneller (Lübeck 1646/9 - London 1723)
The head in this picture appears to be derived from Kneller’s full-length of the 1st Duke in Garter robes at Chatsworth. For this portrait the artist used the same pose and costume as in the signed portrait of Charles, Earl of Peterborough and Mordaunt, which was painted between 1689-97 (now at Ranger’s House, Blackheath). The Duke was one of the five members of the Honourable Order of Little Bedlam. A circular of May 1706 announced the revival of this ‘club’, and in it his animal is given as a leopard. The other members were the Grant Master, John, Earl of Exeter (Lion); the Earl of Denbigh (Tiger); Verrio (Porcupine), and Kneller himself (Unicorn). Some of the rules of the Club - notably the fine for not addressing one another by their animal names - are reported by Francis Peck in his Description of Burghley House in his Desiderata Curiosa, 1732.
Oil painting on canvas (oval), William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Devonshire, KG, PC, (1640-1707) by Sir Godfrey Kneller (Lübeck 1646/9 - London 1723). Oval. Half length portrait, almost profile to left, head facing, wearing blue mantle embroidered with gold, white cravat and long wig, with leopard in left-hand corner.
Hardwick Hall, The Devonshire Collection (National Trust)
Makers and roles
Sir Godfrey Kneller (Lübeck 1646/9 - London 1723), artist previously catalogued as attributed to Willem Wissing (Amsterdam 1656 - Burghley House 1687), artist