A pair of small half length portraits (by different anonymous artists) of Robert Rich 2nd Earl of Warwick (1587-1658), whose seat was at Leighs in Essex. In plate ‘a’ he is enclosed in an oval and looking right, and in plate ‘b’ he wears a lace collar, cuirass and sash, and looks left. An adventurer, buccaneer and planter of colonies in the New World, Warwick inherited the title from his father in 1619. Ben Jonson wrote of him ‘Though he had all those excellent endowments of body and fortune that give splendour to a glorious court, yet he used it but as his recreation; for his spirit aimed at more public adventures, planting colonies in the western world rather than himself in the king’s favour’. However, Warwick, who came of a Puritan family, gradually became estranged from the Court, becoming a fervent adherent and friend of Oliver Cromwell and one of the most active champions of the Parliamentary cause. On the 10th March 1642 the House of Commons voted that Northumberland, the Lord High Admiral, should be asked to appoint Warwick Admiral of the Fleet which was then getting ready to put to sea. The King ordered Northumberland to appoint Sir John Pennington, but the Commons insisted, and Northumberland accordingly granted Warwick’s commission. Charles renewed the struggle three months later by dismissing Northumberland from his office, whereupon Parliament passed an ordinance directing Warwick to continue in command. Armed with this authority, Warwick went on board the Fleet the next day, overcame the resistance of those officers who adhered to the King, and was able to report to Pym on 4th July that the Navy was at Parliament’s disposal. Eighteen months later, 7th Dec. 1643, he was appointed Lord High Admiral in place of Northumberland. Nevertheless, the abolition of the monarchy and the House of Lords was a measure too extreme for Warwick to approve, nor could the Independents leave the control of the Fleet in his hands. In February 1649 Parliament repealed the act constituting Warwick Lord High Admiral, and transferred the government of the Navy to the council of state. Warwick died on 19th April 1658, and was buried at Felsted, Essex. Clarendon says that he was extremely lamented by Cromwell, and adds that he ‘left his estate, which before was subject to a vast debt, more improved and repaired than any man who trafficked in that desperate commodity of rebellion’.
a. Robert Earle of Warwicke and Lord Rich of Leeze etc. b. The Right Honble. Robert Earle of Warwick Lord Rich of Leeze & Lord High Admirall of the Seas.
After William Faithorne a. Robert Earle of Warwicke and Lord Rich of Leeze etc. b. The Right Honble. Robert Earle of Warwick Lord Rich of Leeze & Lord High Admirall of the Seas. (London, c. 1648) Etchings Plate ‘a’ 90x67mm. Plate ‘b’ 115x70mm Trimmed to platemarks, slight old glue staining in corners The pair