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Sir Anthony Van Dyck, 1599–1641
Mountjoy Blount, Earl of Newport [1985, Cormack, YCBA Concise Catalogue]
Former Title(s):
Mountjoy Blount, Ist Earl of Newport
1637 to 1638
Materials & Techniques:
Oil on canvas
85 x 51 inches (215.9 x 129.5 cm), Frame: 106 × 68 inches (269.2 × 172.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
armors | boots | costume | drapery | earl | portrait | pose | soldiers | tents
Associated People:
Blount, Mountjoy, first earl of Newport (c.1597–1666), courtier and politician
Not on view
IIIF Manifest:

Anthony Van Dyck, a pupil of Peter Paul Rubens, spent most of the 1630s working in London. He imported a sophisticated style of portrait painting characterized by loose brushwork and the relaxed and elegant demeanor he gave his sitters. When this portrait was painted, Newport was at the height of his influence. In 1634, Charles I made Newport master of the ordnance, putting him in charge of supplies such as gunpowder and making him very wealthy. Van Dyck’s portrait casts Newport as a powerful but reserved commander, gazing outward from a position just outside his military tent. His helmet, cast in shadow, rests on the table within while soldiers arm for battle behind him. Newport was a historically divisive character: an early royal favorite, he was allied with the king’s critics by the beginning of the Civil War. After the Restoration, he was stripped of his offices and his reputation lapsed into obscurity.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2022

Mountjoy Blount (ca. 1597-1666) was the illegitimate son of Charles Blount, Earl of Devonshire (also known as the 8th Lord Mountjoy), and Penelope, Lady Rich, whose brother was the famous Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, sometime lover of Queen Elizabeth. Blount enjoyed great favor with King Charles I throughout the 1620s and was rewarded with an earldom in 1628, taking his title from Newport on the Isle of Wight. He posed for this portrait in his capacity as Master of the Ordinance, a military office the king granted him for life in 1634, and from which Blount extracted a vast fortune. He weathered the Civil War and Interregnum, during which his wife (who in 1637 amid fanfare converted to Catholicism) apparently acted as a courier traveling to and from the Royalist court in exile, raising the suspicions of Cromwellian agents. Apart from a brief detention in the Tower of London, Lord and Lady Newport were lucky. They survived.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2005
In this grand and opulent work van Dyck creates the image of a powerful, confident, and rich military man. Typically for a portrait of the artist's later English period, he has used none of the conventional symbols of allegory to indicate aspects of the sitter's importance. Instead, Newport's wealth and noble status are represented by his rich clothing (especially his intricately painted lace collar and colorful silk gauze sash), his easy yet powerful pose, and his elegant demeanor.
It is likely that the Earl of Newport and van Dyck were well acquainted, since the sitter's wife was the sister-in-law of Endymion Porter, the painter's great friend and patron. Van Dyck painted Newport more than once in the late 1630s; there exist two half-length portraits of him with George, Baron Goring, the noted courtier. In a reference that may be to the present portrait, the seventeenth-century writer Bellori, in his biography of van Dyck, states that the artist painted the Earl of Newport "issuing orders to officers, with two armed figures behind." [1] Certainly, Newport's authoritative manner here would be consistent with his giving orders to his men.
Mountjoy Blount, 1st Earl of Newport (c. 1597-1666), was the illegitimate son of Charles Blount, Earl of Devonshire and 8th Lord Mountjoy, and Penelope Devereux, Lady Rich. Sister of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex-the notorious lover and favorite of Queen Elizabeth I-Penelope Devereux had married Robert, Lord Rich in 1581; theirs was an unhappy marriage from its outset, contemporary rumors declaring that it was only Lord Rich's fear of his wife's powerful brother that tempered his unkind, even ruthless, behavior toward her. Lady Rich found solace outside her marriage: passionate about literature, she maintained a close friendship with the poet Philip Sidney throughout her life. By 1595 she had openly become the mistress of Lord Mountjoy. The lovers had three children out of wedlock; Mountjoy subsequently acknowledged all of them as his own. In 1601 Lord Rich abandoned his wife, and two years later they divorced. Lady Rich and Lord Mountjoy were married in 1605. Newport was thus related by blood to some of the most in?uential ?gures of the Elizabethan era, and later his half-brothers Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of Warwick, and Henry Rich, 1st Earl of Holland, played crucial roles in Caroline court politics, both ultimately standing against the Crown during the Civil War.
Like his half-brothers, Newport enjoyed favor with the king and queen throughout the 1620s. In the early years of that decade he was charged with diplomatic affairs in England and abroad. He became an earl in 1628, taking his title from Newport on the Isle of Wight. In August 1634 Charles I appointed him Master of the Ordnance for life, a post in which he made a fortune for himself. At the onset of the Civil War Newport hesitated as to his allegiances but eventually settled his loyalty on the side of the Crown. Van Dyck's portrait suggests none of the sitter's wavering attitudes to the Crown but presents him at his seemingly dauntless prime, a fashionable courtier and imposing military leader of the golden years of Charles I's reign.

Julia Marciari-Alexander

Julia Marciari-Alexander, This other Eden, paintings from the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1998, p. 30, no. 4, ND1314.3 Y36 1998 (YCBA)

Art in Focus : William III (Yale Center for British Art, 2011-04-08 - 2011-07-31) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

This Other Eden : British Paintings from the Paul Mellon Collection at Yale (Art Gallery of South Australia, 1998-09-16 - 1998-11-15) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

This Other Eden : British Paintings from the Paul Mellon Collection at Yale (Queensland Art Gallery, 1998-07-15 - 1998-09-06) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

This Other Eden : British Paintings from the Paul Mellon Collection at Yale (Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1998-05-01 - 1998-07-05) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

Susan J. Barnes, Van Dyck, a complete catalogue of the paintings , The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, New Haven, 2004, pp. 561-2, Cat. No. IV.169, pl. IV 169, NJ18 D985 A12 B27 2004 + (YCBA) [YCBA]

British Art at Yale, Apollo, v.105, April 1977, pp. 240-1, pl. 1, N1 .A54 + OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Christie's Sale Catalogue : 25 June 1971, Christie's, 1971, p. 14-15, Lot 10, Sales Catalogues (YCBA)

Malcolm Cormack, Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 90-91, N590.2 A83 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Lionel Cust, Anthony Van Dyck: an historical study of his life and works ..., G. Bell & Sons, London, 1905, J18 D984 900Cb2 + (SML) [ORBIS]

Elizabeth Honig, Van Dyck and Britain: London, Burlington Magazine, Vol. 151,no.1274, May 2009, pp. 327-29, N1 B87 + (YCAB) [ORBIS]

Julia Marciari-Alexander, This other Eden : Paintings from the Yale Center for British Art, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1998, pp. 30-31, no. 4, ND1314.3 Y36 1998 (YCBA) [YCBA]

John McDonald, A Feast of Mellon, Sydney Morning Herald, May 9, 1998, p. 14, Film An Sy25 (SML) Also Available Online (Factiva database) [ORBIS]

Paul Mellon's Legacy : a passion for British art [large print labels], , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, v. 3, N5220 M552 P381 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Nicholas Penny, Duveen's French frames for British pictures, Burlington Magazine, Vol. CLI, no. 1275, June 2009, p. 392, N1 B87 + OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Research Notes: Van Dyck's English Portraits used Allegory, Historian Says, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 1987, p. A5, Film S694 (SML) [ORBIS]

Sacheverell Sitwell, Van Dyck: An Appreciation, Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs, vol. 79,no.465, December 1941, pp. 174-77, N1 B87 + OVERSIZE (YCBA) Also available online at JSTOR [YCBA]

Two Portraits by Van Dyck (Full page reproductions), American Magazine of Art, vol. 20, no. 6, June 1929, pp. 326, J10 M27 (LSF) [ORBIS]

Van Dyck, des meisters gemèalde in 537 abbildungen; herausgegeben von Emil Schaeffer. , bd. 13, Deutsche verlags-anstalt, Stuttgart und Leipzig, 1909, p. 376, NJ18 D985 A12 S32 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Ellis Waterhouse, An Impressive Panorama of British Portraiture, Apollo, v. 105, no. 182, April 1977, pp. 240-1, pl. 1, N1 A54 + (YCBA) Another copy of this article may be found in a separately bound and catalogued copy of this issue located on the Mellon Shelf [call number : N5220 M552 A7 1977 + (YCBA)] [YCBA]

William III, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2011, p. 22, V2340 [ORBIS]

John Wilmerding, Essays in honor of Paul Mellon, collector and benefactor, Essays , National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC & Hanover, NH, 1986, pp. 382-87, N7442.2 M455 1986 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Yale Center for British Art, Selected paintings, drawings & books, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 1977, p. 4, N590.2 A82 (YCBA) [YCBA]

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