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Admiral Fitzroy Henry Lee, 1699-1750

Oil paintings

Object connections:

Collection Oil paintings, Fine art
Gallery locationNot on display
PeopleDepiction: Lee, Fitzroy Henry

Object details:

Object ID BHC2591
Description The Honourable John Byng, the fifth son of Admiral Viscount Torrington, had an unremarkable career until he was sent to relieve the British-held island of Minorca in 1756 when it was under siege by the French. Having risen to flag rank through his illustrious connections but without fighting experience commensurate to the task, his action with the blockading French fleet was inconclusive and the island was lost. He was recalled, humiliatingly confined at Greenwich Hospital, then court-martialled and shot in 1757 on board his own flagship, 'Monarque', at Portsmouth, for neglect of duty. Although the court felt obliged to pass the sentence on point of law, it did so with a strong recommendation for mercy. When this was refused by George II it was recognized that Byng had also been made a political scapegoat and Voltaire, in his novel 'Candide', famously included mention of his (bravely met) death: 'In this country [England]', he wrote, 'it is thought good to shoot an admiral from time to time, to encourage the others'. The French phrase 'pour encourager les autres' has been common in English usage ever since. The painter, Hudson, was both pupil and son-in-law of another notable portraitist, the elder Jonathan Richardson, and was in turn the early master in London of Joshua Reynolds. Regarded as a safe man for a dignified and flattering likeness, he was the leading society portraitist of his time, with a huge practice. Byng is shown in flag officer’s full dress uniform, 1748–1767, and a short white full wig. Inscribed ‘Adml. Byng’. This is possibly a later portrait than the other portrait by Hudson (BHC2590), which is dated 1749, as the face perhaps appears fuller.
Date made Mid 18th century

Artist/Maker Hudson, Thomas
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Collection
Materials oil on canvas
Measurements Painting: 762 mm x 635 mm; Frame: 910 mm x 780 mm x 75 mm
  • Admiral Fitzroy Henry Lee, 1699-1750 (BHC2591)
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