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Royalists from the power of bribing the Lord Chancellor must also have prevented their repossessing themselves of these pictures: had they, indeed, been able to do so, they would at once have held in their hands the peace-offering supposed necessary to advancement.
There is, however, no difficulty in accounting for the facility with which the Chancellor and many other collectors of that period may have become possessed of portraits that had once been prized and cherished by their original owners. The Royalists were not the only sufferers during the civil wars. Many houses were pillaged on each side, and large collections of pictures were thrown into the market both by plunder and by the necessity for money. The Duke of Buckingham lived for a time on the profits arising from the sale of his father's gallery. The King's collections were also sold. Mrs. Hutchinson relates with natural pride the
''When Sir Peter Lely died, his splendid collection of pictures and drawings was sold. He had purchased “many of Vandyck and the Earl of “ Arundel's; and the second Villiers pawned many to him that had “ remained of his father the Duke of Buckingham's.” . . “A list of “ part of his collection was printed with the Duke of Buckingham's collec“ tion by Bathoe ; it contained twenty-six of Vandyck’s best pictures.”— Walpole’s ‘ Anecdotes of Painting,' vol. iii. p. 20.
All the furniture from all the King's palaces was brought up and exposed to sale, particularly Somerset House, Greenwich, Whitehall, Oatlands, Nonsuch, Windsor, Wimbledon House, St. James's, Hampton Court, Richmond, Theobalds, Ludlow, Carisbrook and Kenilworth Castles, Bewdley House, Holdenby House, Royston, Newmarket, and Woodstock Manorhouse (Walpole's ' Anecdotes of Painting,' vol. ii. p. 73); and from the list of pictures given by Vertue from a catalogue once in possession of John Anstis, Esq., Garter King at Arms, it would appear that no less than 1387
taste which prompted her hushand's purchases in works of art, and the liberality with which he paid for its indulgence :
“ The only recreation he had during his residence “ at London was in seeking out all the rare artists “ he could hear of, and in considering their works in “ painting, sculptures, gravings, and all other such curi“osities, insomuch that he became a great virtuoso and “ patron of ingenuity. Being loth that the land should “ be disfurnished of all the rarities that were in it, " whereof many were set for sale from the King's and s divers noblemen's collections, he laid out about 2000l. “ in the choicest pieces of painting, most of which were “ bought out of the King's goods, which had been given “ to his servants to pay their wages; to them the “ Colonel gave ready money, and bought such good “pennyworths that they were valued at much more “ than they cost. These he brought down into the " country.”!
Nor is it only in the confusion of civil strife, but even in times of undisturbed peace, that the ruin of
pictures from these royal houses were sold in the Protectorate.--Mrs. Jameson's 'Handbook to Public Galleries.'
Memoirs of Colonel Hutchinson, edit. Bohn's Standard Library, p. 367.—Mrs. Hutchinson deeply felt the injustice with which her husband was afterwards treated by the Crown on this subject :-“ In December, “ 1660, an order came down from the Secretary, commanding certain pic“ tures and other things the Colonel had bought out of the late King's “ collection, which had cost him in ready money between 10001. and 15001., " and were of more value, and notwithstanding the act of oblivion were all “ taken from him.”-Ibid., p. 224.
great families and the consequent sale of collections of pictures occur ; and it is then that either the skill of the artist or the fame of the subject obtains a ready sale for portraits wholly unconnected with the families of their purchasers. These well-known facts alone are inconsistent with the climax of " circumstantial evidence” brought in favour of Lord Dartmouth's charge, viz., “ that in all the collections of portraits in England it “ is for the most part easy to discover how each por“trait came into the family by tracing its relationship “ and connexion.” The daily experience of those who have interested themselves on such subjects bears strong testimony against this proposition: perhaps, indeed, the converse is nearer the truth, and it might be more truly said that there are few collections where there are not many portraits for whose presence it would be difficult to assign any other reason than the accidents of gift or of purchase. Nor can this be matter of wonder, for the vicissitudes of a portrait often far outstep those of the living subject. In the course of a few years the names of even family pictures are frequently forgotten,
" Within the last few years the sales at Strawberry Hill and at Stowe afford a good example of the rescattering of portraits that had been gathered together without much reference to family connexion. Portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds have been for years eagerly bought up as works of art, and many a picture has wandered from the family for whom it was painted to adorn the galleries of some richer man or more practised connoisseur.
? Evelyn says, “ Our painters take no care to transmit to posterity the “ names of the persons whom they represent, through which negligence so “ many excellent pieces come after a while to be dispersed amongst brokers
their value is then at once diminished, and, if without merit as works of art, they are banished from their places of honour, soon treated as worthless lumber, parted with as unsightly incumbrances, and not unfrequently purchased as mere furniture to cover the bare walls, or perhaps to be received as ancestors in some strange family, and live again with fresh names in the hands of fresh owners."
But though the causes of dispersion and acquisition are far too numerous and obvious not to readily account for the assemblage of pictures collected by the Chancellor or any other collector, it will be well to quote the passage from Evelyn where he describes the manner in which Lord Clarendon was assisted to form his gallery. In his advice to Mr. Pepys “not to embark in the “ vast and unnecessary charge of having so many great “ persons painted in oil,” he adds, that " it was not so “extraordinary a one to my Lord Clarendon as one “ may imagine, because, when his design was once made
" and upholsterers, who expose them to the streets in every dirty and “ infamous corner.”— vol. iv. p. 300.
? It is a notorious fact amongst dealers in pictures, that they receive applications from customers for“ a set of ancestors;”—also portraits of bishops, colonels of regiments, &c., of a given date, are sometimes required to fill up the chain of succession. A well-attested story is told of a nobleman (who died in the early part of this century), who was in the habit of mentioning with great satisfaction the ingenious method he had adopted to supply his castle with such portraits as seemed wanting to his collection, and that, whenever he saw on sale any portrait dressed in the costume of a period where a blank was to be filled up, he always bought it, and, affixing to it the name of the ancestor who had lived at that time, succeeded in obtaining a complete series of family portraits.
“ known, anybody who either had them of their own, “ or could purchase them at any price, strove to make “ their court by these presents, by which means he got “ many excellent pieces of Vandyck, and the originals “ of Lely, and the best of our modern masters' hands.” 1 This desire to pay court to the great, in whatever way evinced, is a weakness, not to say a meanness, that has belonged to all ages ; but whatever might have been the spirit of flattery or self-interest which prompted the desire to gratify the Lord Chancellor's tastes, to suppose that these offerings were received by him as bribes, and that he misused his influence or was corrupt in the administration of justice in return for such gifts, would be to give an interpretation to Evelyn's words wholly inconsistent with the opinion which in the very same letter he expresses of the Chancellor's worth. After
· Letter to Mr. Pepys, Evelyn's 'Memoirs,' vol. iv. p. 30.
? There is no intention to discuss in this brief notice the more general question of the purity of the Chancellor Clarendon's administration, but, since a sentence has been quoted in the Historical Inquiries, from Pepys's Diary, to prove that Evelyn's opinions were unfavourable to his honesty and thus supported Lord Dartmouth's charge, it may be well here to repeat the passage, and see how far it agrees with the feelings and opinions expressed by Evelyn on other occasions.
In the course of a conversation between Evelyn and Pepys, the subject of Sir Thomas Clifford's rapid rise appears to have been discussed, and attributed to the influence of Lord Arlington, “ whose creature he is and “ never leaves him.” “ By the way," writes Mr. Pepys, April 26, 1667, “he (Evelyn) tells me, that of all the great men of England there is none “ that endeavours more to raise those that he takes into favour than my “ Lord Arlington, and that on that score he is much more to be made one's “ patron than my Lord Chancellor, who never did nor never will do anything “ but for money.” That Mr. Evelyn expressed an opinion of the superior advantages to be gained by the protection of Lord Arlington seems quite