A Portrait of Brownlow, 9th Earl of Exeter (1725-1793), by Thomas Hudson (1701-1779).

Oil on canvas, 124.5cm by 100.3cm. Signed Tho: Hudson Pinxit/1747.

The earl is shown at the age of twenty two, wearing the so called ‘Vandyke’ costume, the plain satin suit, with lace collar and cuffs, which became extremely popular in the mid 18th Century.

The 9th Earl was one of the two great collectors at Burghley.

Following in the footsteps of his great grandfather, John, 5th Earl (1648-1700), he travelled to the Continent on the Grand Tour in 1763 and 1768, when he purchased many fine works of art.

Whilst in Naples, on the first of these tours, he met the talented young Swiss artist Angelica Kauffman, to whom he sat for a splendid portrait, which depicts him as a typical 18th Century Grand Tourist, PIC781.

He also made several alterations to the House, both inside and outside, where ‘Capability’ Brown transformed the Park and Gardens.

The 1763 Burghley Inventory records: ‘the Brown dining room ..Brownlow, ye 9th Earl of Exeter by Hudson.’

At the time that this portrait was painted Hudson was the most successful London portrait painter; Joshua Reynolds and Joseph Wright were amongst his pupils.


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