William Dobson

Lord Huntercomb said, “Smethyk showed  himself anxious to point out that my Prince Rupert Conversing with a Herald was painted by Dobson, rather than Van Dyck. Fortunatley I had long ago come to the same conclusion and recently caused its label to be altered.” [CCR 165/169]

When Prince Rupert was mentioned in BM, we were unable to find an actual Van Dyck to match it, so we are not surprised by Smethyk’s opinion.

Prince Rupert , Colonel William Murray and Colonel, The Hon. John Russell William Dobson, circa 1640 oil on canvas, 60 x 82 in Ashdown House, Berkshire ©National Trust Images

Prince Rupert , Colonel William Murray and Colonel, The Hon. John Russell
William Dobson, circa 1640
oil on canvas, 60 x 82 in
Ashdown House, Berkshire
©National Trust Images

William Dobson (1611-1646)  actually did paint Prince Rupert at least 3 times, but again we have not found the exact painting in the Huntercombe collection. Dobson became a royal court painter in 1641, when Van Dyck died. Powell may have had a special interest in Dobson because Dobson’s contemporary, John Aubrey (subject of Powell’s John Aubrey and his Friends),  called him “the most excellent painter that England hath yet bred.” Dobson is believed to have copied Van Dycks earlier in his career, but his mature style is not easily confused with Van Dyck’s.  Naturally, Lord Huntercombe, the connoisseur, is one step ahead of Smethyck.

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