The 9th Earl of Exeter (1725-1793) was one of Burghley’s two great collectors. He travelled to Italy on the Grand Tour in 1763 and 1768, where he acquired many important paintings, statuary and other works of art. At home, he commissioned many exceptional pieces of contemporary furniture and employed Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown for more than two decades to remodel the landscape surrounding the House.
The miniature, painted circa 1732 shows the then Lord Burghley, with flowing brown hair and wearing a maroon coat with a lace jabot. The 4.5cm oval enamel is in a gold frame, the reverse of which is engraved with a cypher and the inscription, ‘Was born September ye 4th 1725/ his age 6 years & half’.