Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of Anne Villiers, Countess of Morton (1610 - 1654) 1640s

Theodore Roussel (1614-89)

Portrait of Anne Villiers, Countess of Morton (1610 - 1654), Theodore Roussel
Oil on Panel
17th Century
15 1/4 x 12 1/2 inches 38.7 x 31.8 cm
Balnagown Castle, Ross-Shire, Scotland
Theodore Roussel was born in London in 1614. The son of the Royal Stuart jeweller, he spent his apprenticeship with his uncle, Cornelius Johnson before working as an assistant to Van Dyck after 1632. Following the master's death in 1641, Roussel began producing fashionably small-scale portraits that are predictably Van Dyckian in mood and presentation. Sets of his portraits (some copied directly from Van Dyck) can be found at Knowle, Woburn and Southside houses in Wimbledon, as well as in the Royal Collection. A three quarter-length portrait of the Countess by Van Dyck hangs at Althorp.

Anne, daughter of Sir Edward Villiers, half brother of George, 1st Duke of Buckingham, married Robert Douglas, Lord Dalkeith who was High treasurer of Scotland and later 10th Earl of Morton. Renown both for her beauty and loyalty to the throne, ''She was one of the most admired beauties of her age and the graces of her mind were not inferior to those of her person''1. Waller addressed a poem ''To my Lady Morton on New Year''s Day 1650'' which includes the lines ''To the fair villiers we Dalkeith prefer - and fairest Morton now as much as her''.

Ann was entrusted with the care of Queen Henrietta Maria's daughter during the civil war (she was the child's Godmother). After being besieged in Exeter by Parliamentary forces in April 1646 and moved on their direction, she refused ensuing orders to take the child to St James's Palace, resolving rather to risk escape to France where the child could be reunited with its mother. At the end of July she disguised herself as a peasant and the child as a boy before fleeing to Dover and thereafter to France, where she was much praised by the Queen for her courage and regarded as a heroine by Royalists in Paris.
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