© Lennoxlove House Ltd
||Formerly hanging in
Hamilton Palace, South Lanarkshire, now at Lennoxlove, East Lothian
James, 4th Duke of Hamilton was one of Kneller’s
first British patrons, and he not only sat to him but encouraged
the rest of his own family to do so, including Anne,
3rd Duchess and William, 3rd Duke.
The large, full-length portrait, oil on canvas, 238.76 x 147.3cm,
appears to be signed and dated by 'Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bart., 1715'.
This would make it a posthumous image. It could be, however, that
it is a posthumous version of a portrait from life, or that the
inscription is not authentic. It has always been in the Hamilton
After his education at Hamilton Burgh School and
Glasgow University, the 4th Duke undertook the Grand Tour to France
and, unusually for a Scot, also visited Italy, travelling as far
south as Rome. To the annoyance of his parents, he then settled
in London at the Court of Charles II, with whom he was something
of a favourite. Because his mother was duchess in her own right,
he did not inherit his titles on the death of his father in 1694,
but his mother agreed that he should become duke in 1698, so that
he could represent the family in the Scottish parliament.
His first wife had died young and his second marriage
to an English heiress, Elizabeth Gerard, meant that the 4th Duke’s
attitude towards the Treaty of Union was ambivalent. His relatives
and friends expected him to oppose the union, but he failed to take
a lead and after the act was passed in 1707, he went south again,
never to return. In 1711 he was created Duke of Brandon and Baron
Dutton, but was unable to take his seat in the House of Lords because
of a legal wrangle as to whether Scottish peers could sit there
under English titles. He was killed in a duel in Hyde Park by Lord
Mohun in 1712, before he could take up his new position as Queen
Anne’s ambassador in France.