Sir Richard Fanshawe (1608-66), 1st Baronet

Object number



c. 1644


Christened on 15th June 1608 in the parish church of St. Mary, Ware, Sir Richard was the 5th son of Sir Henry Fanshawe and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas ('Customer') Smythe, and was brother to 1st Viscount Fanshawe (see no.16). Richard was a man of noble character and great learning, being a poet and translator. His first appointment was a secretaryship in the British Embassy in Madrid (1635-38). In 1640 he was in Ireland as Secretary to the Council of War, until he succeeded his eldest brother Thomas as Remembrancer of the Exchequer on 5th August 1642. Secretary of War at Oxford in 1643 (where this portrait probably painted) to the Prince of Wales at the start of the Civil War. On 18th May 1644 he married fellow Royalist Ann Harrison (see no.8), and together they had 14 children: Harrison (1645-1645); Ann (1646-1654); Henry (1647-1649); Richard (1648-1659) (see. no27); Elizabeth (1650-1650); Elizabeth(1651-1655); Katherine (1652-); Margaret (1653-1705) (see LDVAL 2004.5.6); Ann (1655-) (see no.9 & LDVAL 2004.5.5); Mary (1656-1660); Henry (1657-1657); Elizabeth (1662-1684); Richard (1663-1663); Richard (1665-1694). Richard and his family followed Prince Charles to the West Country. He gave all he had to the Royalist cause, suffering great hardships. He was created a Baronet in 1651, captured the following year after the Battle of Worcester and imprisoned by the Parliamentary Government. He was released after Cromwells death (1658) and joined Prince Charles in Paris, France, where he was appointed Master of Requests and Secretary of the Latin Tongue. He was entrusted with the mission to Portugal to obtain the hand of Princess Catherine of Braganza for King Charles II and was one of the reception party for Catherine at Portsmouth in May 1662. After the Royal marriage, Richard was appointed Ambassador to Portugal and later to Spain (1664). It was in Spain that Richard died of a fever in 1666 and was succeeded by his ten-month old son Richard. His wife Ann brought his body back to England for burial. This is one of Dobson's finest pictures.

Physical description

Large 3/4 length portrait of sitting man, turned to the left. In his left hand he holds some paper (symbolising him as a man of letters), on his lap is a black and white greyhound dog (symbolising his loyalty to King Charles II), under his chair is a theatrical mask (symbolising his love of classics) and in the background are twisted columns of Solomon symbolising his wisdom. He is wearing a pale blue silk doublet which is open at the waist to show the white lace edged undershirt beneath. It has fitted sleeves which stop short of the wrist showing the cuff of his shirt. The doublet is lined with red silk, which is visible at the slit in its cuff. He is wearing a white lace edged linen falling band. His breeches are not visible, but is wearing red stockings. He has chin length curly brown hair, and a moustache and small pointy beard below his lower lip.




Collins Baker describes this as ?a handsome piece, both in design and colour, the black and white of the hound admirably foiling the blue silk doublet....Van Dyck's influence predominates, especially in the folds and wrinkles on the sleeve; the hand is less Van Dyckian. In the eyes we see one of Dobson's marked characteristics, an expression I can best describe as dog-like. The painting is smooth and evenly thin, quite unlike the granular quality of Dobson's later pictures...This portrait clearly shows how fine was Dobson's sense for arrangement; in its spacing and severe silhouettes, in its breadth and large planes, it compares with the best designs Van Dyck made in his English period.? Collins Baker and Constable, in their joint work, considered this to be ?the most handsome portrait by Dobson known to us?. H.C. Fanshawe, who reproduces the portrait in his family History, describes ?The God the background emerging from the river Alpheo, as he appears in the frontispiece of the 2nd edition (1648) of Sir Richard's translation of Guarini's Pastor Fido. The mask, representing the drama, is introduced at he foot of the picture?.


Portrait Painting


whole height: 1630mm
width: 1300mm
Canvas height: 1330mm
width: 1050mm

Collection type

Visual arts, Fanshawe Portraits

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