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Arts of Europe

The MFAH collections of art created on the European continent encompass artistic styles across the time line of history, from the ancient world to the Middle Ages, and the Early Modern era to the 21st century.

probably Flemish, active England, c. 1650
Esmé Stuart, 5th Duke of Lennox and 2nd Duke of Richmond
c. 1649–60
Oil on Canvas

50 x 43 7/8 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

The Rienzi Collection, museum purchase with funds provided by the Rienzi Society and by Mr. and Mrs. Harris Masterson III, by exchange

Arts of Europe

John Weesop, the painter of this moving portrait of a young boy, is an elusive figure in the history of English portraiture. His paintings have for centuries been incorrectly attributed as the work of others.

Several paintings known to be by Weesop are associated with the Villiers family, royalist supporters of King Charles I. This poignant portrait is of Esmé Stuart, the 2-year-old son of the 1st Duke of Richmond and Lady Mary Villiers. In 1655, at the age of 6, Esmé Stuart inherited his father´s title. By 1660, the young Duke and his family had fled to France after finding themselves supporters of the losing side in the English Civil War. While in exile in Paris, he contracted smallpox and died, just three months after the restoration of a Stuart king to the English throne.