The Berger Collection


John Michael Wright (1617-1694)
General George Monck, 1st Duke of Albemarle
Oil on canvas
61 x 51 in. (155 x 130 cm)

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General George Monck was a Royalist commander fighting for Charles I in the English Civil War when he was captured by the Parliamentarians and imprisoned in the Tower of London. He was won over to the Parliamentary cause and was made a major-general under Oliver Cromwell, leading successful campaigns in Ireland and Scotland. Despite his lack of naval training, in 1652 he was made an admiral of the English navy and proved to be an excellent sailor. Following his success at sea, Monck was made Governor of Scotland. In 1659 he helped depose Richard Cromwell, who had succeeded his father upon the elder Cromwell’s death, and was largely responsible for restoring the exiled Charles II to the English throne. The grateful king knighted Monck and made him 1st Duke of Albemarle.

Monck is portrayed here at the highest point of a distinguished military career. The portrait, commissioned by Cosimo III de’ Medici in 1669, commemorates the historic moment on May 25, 1660, when General Monck, as head of the armed forces, officially welcomed Charles II to England on the Cliffs of Dover. Monck holds the baton of command and wears his famous Lion Armour with its gold foliage and embossed lion masks, possibly a gift from the king. On his left shoulder he displays the Order of the Garter, and around his neck the Order of St. James. In the background Monck’s forces are assembled on the cliffs. In the foreground the returning king is visible, attended by his Master of the Horse and other squires. Upon landing, the king is reputed to have knelt before Monck, thanking him for his efforts and calling him “Father,” a great honor and a mark of recognition by the king.


Provenance

Duke of Newcastle at Clumber Castle; Christie’s, London, June 4, 1937, lot 127; Leggatt Brothers, London, September 1937; Brocket sale, Sotheby’s, London, July 16, 1952, lot 101; H. Murphy, Esq., Castello House, Hull, Yorkshire; sale, Dee Atkinson & Harrison, Driffield, Yorkshire, February 6, 1998; Sarandon Consultants Ltd., Tortola, B.V.I.

Bibliography

Exhibited: The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, London, Andrew Marvell and his Contemporaries, 1978


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