Friday, October 25, 2019

Update on the Curious Portrait in North Carolina that Likely Depicts the Privateer Sir Thomas Cavendish

 Above: Unknown Man (North Carolina Museum of Art  NCMA.67.13.4) & "Portrait of Sir Thomas Cavendish" by John Bettes (image from Flickr).

*This update has itself been updated. Please click here to read the final post arguing that this unknown man is the privateer Sir Thomas Cavendish.*

A quick update to an earlier post on my identification of the unknown gent kept at the North Carolina Museum of Art as the privateer Sir Thomas Cavendish. It's very difficult to find portraits of Sir Thomas. I found this new one (above, right) on Flickr. Both portraits depict storm clouds behind their sitters. Quite the coincidence.

It's also noteworthy that, much to my surprise, I just realized that two other portraits, according to the NCMA website listing, depict members of the Cavendish family inside the North Carolina Museum of Art British Collection. NCMA.58.4.1 depicts Christian, Lady Cavendish with her daughter in 1619 by Paul van Somer. And NCMA. 58.3.1 is listed as William Lord Cavendish, the 2nd Earl of Devonshire, also by van Somer.  Since there are only 25 portraits inside the museum's British Collection, I find that to be quite the coincidence as well.
Above: Unknown Gent (NCMA) & Sir Thomas Cavendish (image via
Could this collection, or part of it, have once been owned by a privateer? One reason I think this to be the case is that the fabulous portrait now kept at the NCMA was painted using gold and silver leaf in the portrait. If I'd had myself painted in real gold, I'd probably keep that one for myself.  

I will close by posting an announcement (see below) that I found on the museum's website. I'm pretty confident I've unraveled at least one puzzle portrait of this great mystery. And I'm also betting I will be proven correct regarding my identification of an unknown woman as Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke.

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