JAMES STUART, DUKE OF LENNOX AND AFTERWARDS OF RICHMOND

James Stuart, Duke of Lennox, was one of the most prominent personages at the English court. His uncle was a cousin and trusted friend of King James I., and the relations between the nephew and Charles I. were even closer. Immediately upon taking a degree at Cambridge, the young nobleman entered the royal service as Gentleman of the King's Bedchamber. He was just thirteen years of age, and a born courtier. "His courtesie was his nature, not his craft," quaintly says one historian. While still in his minority, he visited France, Italy, and Spain. When Van Dyck came to England, he became at once one of the painter's most frequent sitters.

Our illustration is one of the first of the series of portraits of the Duke of Lennox, and shows him at the age of twenty. The young man stands with his hand on the head of a favorite greyhound, and turns his pleasant face to ours with a smile. He wears the habit of the Order of the Garter. This "most noble and illustrious Order" was instituted by King Edward III. under the patronage of St. George. It consisted of the sovereign and twenty-five "companions" banded together, like the knights of Arthur's Round Table, for the advancement of ideal manliness. The ceremony of investiture was very solemn, each part of the costume being placed in turn on the elect knight, when he knelt to take the vows. We note in the picture the same details which we saw in the portrait of Charles I., the mantle with the great silver star, and the gold medal, or "George," on the blue ribbon. One part of the costume not to be seen in the other picture is the garter, worn on the left leg "between the knee and the calf," as the old directions read.

The garter was, indeed, originally the most important emblem of the entire garb. It symbolized to the wearers that "as by their Order, they were join'd in a firm League of Amity and Concord, so by their Garter, as by a fast Tye of Affection, they were obliged to love one another." The garter was blue, fastened with a gold buckle, and on it was inscribed the motto, "Honi soit qui mal y pense" [Evil to him who evil thinks]. A miniature representation of the garter encircles the cross in the centre of the star, and also forms a border of the "George" medallion.

From the broad lace collar to the high-heeled shoes with their huge rosettes, the young man of the picture represents the height of the prevailing fashion. His hair is carefully curled in the manner of the Cavaliers. He is in fact the impersonation of the court life of the period. It is pleasant to fancy the graceful youth moving through the stately figures of the court dances.

JAMES STUART, DUKE OF LENNOX AND RICHMOND Metropolitan Art Museum, New York
JAMES STUART, DUKE OF LENNOX AND RICHMOND
Metropolitan Art Museum, New York

It was five years after this portrait was painted that the Duke of Lennox married Mary, the daughter of the first Duke of Buckingham. Then followed the troubles in Scotland caused by the king's persistent attempt to force the liturgy of the Church of England upon the people. Lennox now showed himself a stanch adherent of the Crown, and upheld the royal cause in the face of the bitter opposition of the Scotch. His enemies thought him very haughty and severe in his manner, but his probity and sincerity seem not to have been questioned.

In 1641, he was created Duke of Richmond, and in the same year was appointed to the high office of Lord Steward of the Household. Throughout the civil war he served his royal master with untiring faithfulness, devoting a large part of his fortune to the cause of the Crown. When Charles was held a prisoner in Hampton Court, it was this friend who cheered the period of his confinement. When at last, after the execution of the king, the royal remains were buried at Windsor, the Duke of Richmond was one of the four noblemen who sorrowfully bore the pall to the grave. He died in the prime of manhood, in 1655.

A more loyal follower no king could have, yet, notwithstanding his zeal, the Duke of Lennox and Richmond failed to exert any great influence upon history, because he lacked the necessary judgment and decision of character. His portrait certainly does not indicate any special intellectual promise in the young man. Yet the face is so refined, the expression so winning, that none can help feeling the singular charm of the personality. Van Dyck understood well how to impart an air of distinction to a figure, and when, as in this case, he had a favorable subject, he was especially successful.

To lovers of dogs the greyhound is no unimportant part of our picture. The painter has expressed with much insight the character of this beautiful and high-bred creature. The muzzle is pressed affectionately to the master's side, and the eyes are fixed upon the beloved face with an expression of intense devotion. There is a tradition that this animal once saved the duke's life by rousing him from sleep at the approach of an assassin.

In the making up of the composition, the dog's figure describes a diagonal line on the left, which balances a similar diagonal on the other side made by the duke's placing his arm akimbo. Thus the general diagram of a pyramid is suggested as the basis of the grouping.