Portrait of Henry Bennet
Lely was a painter of Dutch origin who spent his career as the leading court portrait painter in England, following the death of Van Dyck in 1641. Lely was instrumental in introducing mezzotint to England as a means of publishing his portraits. He encouraged a number of Dutch practitioners to work for him. One can see the overall surface pitting of this technique.
Henry Bennet, first Earl of Arlington (1618-1685), was a court politician and secretary of state to King Charles II. He was awarded the Order of the Garter in 1672, which is prominently displayed on his right shoulder in this print (a cross surrounded by an oval garter set on a sunburst). He also wears a finely detailed lace collar. The portrait is set in an oval frame, inscribed “Henry Bennet Earl of Arlington.” The frame in turn is surrounded by florid rocaille ornaments with a still life of unopened letters and a pike winding around a spear tip at bottom center.
Jacobus Houbraken (1698-1780) worked in the Netherlands and was famous as an engraver of portraits. Most notably, he did engravings for a work by the historian Thomas Birch and the artist George Vertue, Heads of Illustrious Persons of Great Britain published in London in 1752-1759. Inscription: “P. Lely pinx[it]. In the Collection of Sr. Thomas Hanmer Bart. J. Houbraken sculps[it]. Amst[erdam].” And “Impensis J. & P. Knapton, Londini 1739.” Sir Thomas Hanmer, fourth baronet (1677–1746) and speaker of the House of Commons, was a conservative Tory and literary dilettante. John (ca. 1696 – 1767-70) and Paul (ca. 1703-1755) Knapton were important London booksellers.