Oil on canvas, unframed 123.2cm by 141cm.
Henry inherited the Earldom of Exeter from his uncle Brownlow, the 9th Earl in 1793. He was particularly interested in all things scientific and added a number of interesting and unusual items to the collection. The title was raised to a Marquessate in 1801, when Henry became the 1st Marquess of Exeter. The Bottle Lodges, the plans for which appear in the portrait, were built on the western approach to Burghley to celebrate the event.
Martin Archer Shee was the scion of an old Irish Catholic family who considered his choice of career unsuitable. Nontheless, he studied at the Royal Academy schools and became a fine portrait painter, although his work was always overshadowed by that of more famous contemporaries like Sir Thomas Lawrence. After the latter’s death, Martin Archer Shee was elected President of the Royal Academy and was knighted soon afterwards.