Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of John Campbell, Lord Glenorchy (later 3rd Earl of Breadalbane), c.1735 

Enoch Seeman (1694-1744)

Portrait of John Campbell, Lord Glenorchy (later 3rd Earl of Breadalbane), c.1735, Enoch Seeman
Oil on canvas
18th Century
95 x 60 in (241.3 x 152.4 cm)
The sitter; Possibly associated with the Bateman family; By descent in the family of the Earls of Breadalbane at Taymouth Castle; Breadalbane Hotel; Purchased from Breadalbane Hotel c.1967 by Ernest Johns of Knoedlers (as Scottish anon. c.1740 Portrait of a Campbell with his bandog); European Private Collection.
This portrait of the young Lord Glenorchy is a bold and resounding statement of the sitter's position as the bearer of a proud Scottish name and as the heir to vast estates and to the loyalty of the of the Campbells of Breadalbane. Seeman was clearly a favourite artist of Lord Glenorchy, since Glenorchy sat to him again some twenty years later c.1742, for a painting which displays the same distinctive lantern-jawed physiognomy, though aged by two decades, (painting formerly at Taymouth Castle). In this portrait the artist has been careful to place the sitter in the context of an ancient tradition, both as a Scottish chieftain and as a great nobleman, so that this monumental work alludes both to the pan-European aristocratic ideal expressed in Titian's Emperor Charles V with a hound (Prado, Madrid) as well as to specifically Scottish iconography of the clan chieftain depicted in his native dress against an expansive landscape representing his domains, whose earliest and most famous example is John Michael Wright's Portrait of Lord Mungo Murray (Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh) painted only half a century previously. Like the Wright painting the present portrait shows the sitter in the full regalia of a chieftain, in this instance a blue bonnet and tartan suit of jacket, truibhs and broad plaid, with a magnificently hilted broadsword. The inclusion of these traditional highland accoutrements was clearly an essential element of such portraits, and central to their purpose of proclaiming the sitter's feudal heritage: in an earlier portrait painted c.1705 by Charles D'Agar, (now in the collection of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery) Lord Glenorchy is shown as a boy wearing a belted plaid, with items of highland sporting and martial weaponry both worn and displayed on the ground before him. This earlier likeness is an important comparison with the Seeman portrait, since even at the age of twelve, Lord Glenorchy's distinctive physiognomy enables us to recognise him as the sitter in the present painting.

From the age of the sitter this portrait appears to have been painted in the 1720s, when the sitter was in his mid-twenties1. As an example of Seeman's painting, this portrait demonstrates that the years up to 1730 show the artist at his most ambitious and at his most inventive and technically accomplished. The handling of the landscape background and the means by which separate elements are integrated within the composition are an impressive proof of Seeman's inventiveness at this date. Without any incongruity of scale or perspective, the landscape falls sharply away below Lord Glenorchy to the left, to reveal a river valley which then rises steeply to a bald mountain. Comparison with a prospect of the region painted c.1756 by John Sanger2 shows that Seeman has indeed intended to show Glenorchy against a landscape recognisable as the sitter's estates. This country is at once suggestive of the beauty and the bleakness of Glenorchy's domains, but Seeman is careful to remind us that this wild landscape is not without the touches of modern taste or Augustan humanism, and to the right the composition is enclosed by the bulk of a circular tempietto with ionic pilasters, perhaps Glenorchy's personal legacy to the landscape. These three elements are in turn united and explained by the figure of Glenorchy that dominates them all with such well-bred assurance from the centre of the composition. Certainly Seeman's talents must have made an impression on Glenorchy, since he employed him twenty years later to paint his portrait again – this time as Whig Lord three-quarter length with the sash and star of the Order of the Bath –and to paint his two sons in a full-length double portrait, signed and dated 1742, for which the painter received payment in 1744.3

Lord Glenorchy's position – and the ambiguous role of his family in Anglo-Scottish politics in the previous four decades – may have had some bearing on the emphatically feudal character of this portrait. For one thing, whilst Glenorchy is portrayed here as a man of almost exclusively Scottish significance, his preoccupations at this date were far from his native land. The very employment of Seeman, a German painter much favoured by the Whig government is indicative of this, and by the time that this portrait was painted Glenorchy was inextricably linked with the Hanoverian regime. His grandfather had been a Jacobite in the 1715 Rebellion, and perhaps his grandson was conscious of the need to protect his inheritance – which included extensive estates in Staffordshire – by unimpeachable service to the government. Already by 1718 Glenorchy was Master of the Horse to the Princess of Wales, and in 1720 he received his appointment to be Minister to Copenhagen, which post he held until 1730. His diplomatic career was crowned in 1731 when he was sent as Ambassador to St Petersburg. The two portraits by Seeman, divided by twenty years and depicting such different facets of the same man''s feudal and political personae must be in some way an attempt to reconcile the sometimes contrary characters of clan chief and Hanoverian minister. It may be as significant that Glenorchy was painted as a Highland chieftain in the 1720s to remind his clansmen of his continued role and authority in their society when he was busiest in the service of the government as it is that he and his sons are not portrayed in tartan in the 1740s, when
Glenorchy may have been eager to assure spectators – and his King - that he was untainted by Jacobitism. George II, who had little faith in Glenorchy's talents, and had dismissed him from his Danish embassy for leaving to much of the work to his secretary, remarked: ''My Lord Glenorchy is very well-intentioned, but he can't influence or govern… his clan.''4 If the clan Campbell of Breadalbane was such an unruly tribe as this suggests, it would further explain why Glenorchy had felt the need of such a bold statement of his chieftain's credentials as the present portrait had been necessary twenty years previously.

In the matter of loyalty to Crown or Pretender, lord and vassal were at variance, according to contemporary report. The Earl of Hardwicke, George II's Lord Chancellor, was Glenorchy''s principal advocate at Court, not least since his son had married Glenorchy's only daughter Jemima in 1740, but could not disguise the fact that Glenorchy managed only to keep his clan neutral during the initial rising. Earlier Hardwicke had asked Glenorchy, since his father Lord Breadalbane was old and infirm, ''to make use of the powerful influence which you have in [Scotland] on the side of the Government, which cannot fail to give a direction to your numerous clan which you know took a wrong direction on a previous occasion.''5 By doing so, Hardwicke urged, he had the ''opportunity of doing a great service to his Majesty, and your country and of acquiring great merit to yourself.''6 This was more easily suggested than done. In 1745 a great many even in England equivocated, believing that the Rebellion might prove successful, and Glenorchy claimed that he was barely able to prevent the clan from joining the rebels. In 1746 he sent four hundred men to fight at Culloden in Cumberland's army, but this was too little too late, and for George II he was always under the suspicion of Jacobitism. When Glenorchy applied during the lifetime of his father for an English peerage as ''the only real and substantial mark of favour His Majesty can give me… to encourage people to stand by him, by distinguishing those who did it on the late occasion when others ran away from danger,'' George was unimpressed. And again, after Glenorchy had succeeded to his father''s title as Earl of Breadalbane he rejected his request to sit in London as a Scottish representative peer ''with very hard expressions against Lord Breadalbane, that he thought him a Jacobite.''6 The Duke of Newcastle was only able to obtain the King's consent ''with great difficulty'' after he reminded the King that by virtue of the size of Breadalbane''s estates in Scotland and Staffordshire ''not one Scotchman thought anybody could stand in competition with him.''7 He was made a representative peer in 1752 and Chief Justice in Eyre South of the Trent from 1756 to 1765, Keeper of the Privy Seal in Scotland from 1765. The next reign looked more trustingly on him, and he was Keeper of the Privy Seal in Scotland from 1765 to 1766 – in which year he was raised to the Privy Council – and Vice Admiral of Scotland from 1776 to his death in 1782.

The fact that this portrait remained in the vicinity of Taymouth Castle, the renamed seat of the Earls of Breadalbane until comparatively recently supports the traditional belief that it came to the Breadalbane Hotel from family ownership and most probably hung in Taymouth Castle until removal at an unknown date. The family of the Earls of Breadalbane ceased to live at the castle from 1915, and so the portrait may have been removed at around that date. An intriguing, partially erased inscription on the painting names a member of the Bateman family, and the portrait may perhaps have passed through their ownership at some early date. The Viscounts Bateman of Shobdon Court, Herefordshire, were a Whig family newly ennobled during the 1720s, and may perhaps have been political allies of Lord Glenorchy, but no satisfactory explanation for the inscription has yet been discovered, and there remains no evidence that the portrait ever left the vicinity of Taymouth Castle.

1.The short wig that he wears is to be found in other portraits by Seeman at this date, such as the Portrait of John Lord Hervey (Ickworth), like Glenorchy an strong ally of Robert Walpole, and from its practicality would appear to have been particularly worn when hunting or shooting, as in Seeman's Portrait of a gentleman in blue with gun and dog (formerly at Rudding Park) or his Portrait of Sir John Shuckburgh Bt (formerly at Shuckburgh Park).
2. I am very grateful to David Taylor for drawing my attention to the landscape by John Sanger, and also to Timothy Pont's late sixteenth century map of the region, in which a representation of Balloch Castle appears to conform to the appearance of the castle depicted by Seeman and confirms its identity.
3. Note on file in the Heinz Archive National Portrait Gallery London
4. The History of Parliament; The House of Commons 1715 – 1754 HMSO 1970 Vol I p.526
5 ibid
6 Letter from Lord Hardwicke to Lord Glenorchy quoted ibid
7 ibid
8 ibid
Philip Mould Ltd, 18-19 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5LU.Copyright Philip Mould Ltd.