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Concerning Dr John Arbuthnot, Physician to Queen Anne


Dr John Arbuthnot (1667-1735) was the political satirist who created the character of John Bull and was immortalised by his friendship with Pope, Swift and Gay. For details of his genealogy click here.   For details of his career click here.

There are portraits described as being of Dr John Arbuthnot which seems more probably to be of William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield (1705-93).  In setting out the facts on this site, it may be better to present the portraits in order (1 - 9) Dr John Arbuthnot, (10) the portrait in question and (11 - 16) the Earl of Mansfield.

Uncontroversial representations of Dr John Arbuthnot include:
1.    William Robinson's portrait which is in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.  This is reproduced in Beattie's "John Arbuthnot".   This William Robinson is not the Robinson (1799-1839) who was a pupil of Sir Thomas Lawrence.

2.    The portrait which was then in the possession of Mr William Arbuthnot-Leslie of Warthill, Aberdeenshire, also shown in Mrs P.S.-M.Arbuthnot's "Memories of the Arbuthnots of Kincardineshire and Aberdeenshire" (the copyright to which book is owned by Sir William Arbuthnot, Bt).  This portrait is now at Lickley Head, seat of Mr Sebastian Arbuthnot-Leslie.

3.    The portrait by Sir Godfrey Kneller, once owned by Pope, now in the Hunterian Museum Glasgow.  Said to have been Kneller's last work.  An engraving "from a scarce print" was published in Icon. Scottica, 1798.   J Douglas Stewart makes no reference to any portrait of Arbuthnot in his catalogue raisonne, "Sir Godfrey Kneller and the English Baroque Portrait", Oxford, 193.

4.    The portrait (blistering badly) after Sir Godfrey Kneller, now at Ickworth (now run by the National Trust).  Ref: Christopher Hurst SFK 04 554.   Canvas 28.5" x 23".

5.    A portrait by an unknown artist, held in Christie's Images Library, negative 959894. (tel: +44 (0) 171 582 1282). Shown in Christie's Nov 1980 collection but not listed in Nov 1980 Sale Catalogue.

6.  There is a portrait of Dr John at the Wellcome Library

7.    There was a small and comparatively modern engraving of "John Arburhnot, M.D." (sic) by T. Prescott.  Location unknown.

8.    There was an engraving in an oval by A. Bell.  Location unknown.

9.    Noble in his Continuation of Granger, mentions a small engraving by Vertue

10.    The image below is source: Photofest (not known beyond that)

11.     This portrait is now thought to be by J Vanloo c. 1738 (formerly thought to be by Charles Jervas, c.1715) and is owned by the Royal College of Physicians.  Inscribed u.r. "John Arbuthnot, M.D.".  A copy is owned by Sir William Arbuthnot, Bt, inscribed u.l., "John Arbuthnot M.D." which may once have been at Warthill and subsequently sold.  However a further copy is listed in R. Gibson's Catalogue of pictures in the Collection of the Earl of Clarendon, 1977, (51), (96).  Gibson says "Despite its inscription, our portrait proves to represent Mansfield. It is too young a man, too late to represent Arbuthnot, and is a version of the earlier portrait by Vanloo, with the same face but in a wig, engraved by Basire as painted in 1732.  A fine Kit-cat size version still in Lord Clarendon's collection belonged to his ancestor, the sitter's friend, Henry Cornbury and Baron Hyde, 1710-1753, who was also painted by Vanloo.  It is listed in his catalogue of 1750: Lord Hyde's Dressing Room ... MR SOLICITOR-GENERAL MURRAY."  At any rate, this portrait is reproduced as Arbuthnot, rather than Mansfield in G.A.Aitken's "Life & Works of Arbuthnot" (Oxford University Press).

Other portraits of Judge William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield (1705-1792) include:

12.    A portrait by Jan-Baptist van Loo (1684-1745). Oil on canvas 127.7 x 101.3 cm.  Collection: The Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood (Inv. No. 1296)

13.    A portrait by Jean-Baptiste van Loo (1684-1745). Oil on canvas 74.9 x 62.2 cm.  National Portrait Gallery 474 (614/7)

14.    A portrait by J. B. van Loo (1732). Collection Earl of Mansfield, Scone Palace.

15.    A portrait by J. B. van Loo (1732). Private collection., London N.6.  (1980).

16.    A portrait by Copley. National Portrait Gallery 172.

17.    A portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1732).   Three-quarter length, seated, wearing robes of the Lord Chief Justice.   Inscribed u.r. "William Lord Chief Justice Mansfield".  Scone Palace, Perth. Copy at Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, DC. There is an engraving (1786) by F. Bartolozzi of this portrait.


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Last brought up to date  19:41  11 September 2005
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