The Right Honble Lord Robert Manners Captain of His Majesty's Ship the Resolution April 12 1782
A full-length portrait of Lord Robert Manners (1758–1782) in naval uniform, wearing a powdered wig and black stock. Manners rests his right hand on an anchor with a large rock to the left and a naval engagement in the right background. This print was engraved by William Dickinson after an original painting by Joshua Reynolds, which is now at Belvoir Castle, the seat of the Manners family. Reynolds’s portrait was painted as a posthumous memorial to the sitter after he was fatally wounded at the Battle of the Saintes on 12 April 1784, dying twelve days later on 24 April. The painting was commissioned in June 1782 by the captain’s grief-stricken brother, Charles Manners, fourth Duke of Rutland. The duke supplied Reynolds with a portrait of his brother by Nathaniel Dance as a source for the likeness. The Manners family collection included three portraits of Lord Robert by Nathaniel Dance but these were destroyed by fire in 1816. The representation of the uniform in Reynolds’s portrait (and thus also in this print) is curious since it shows Manners in captain’s full-dress uniform, 1774 pattern, except with blue facings on the lapels, instead of white. In 1784, Reynolds was commissioned by the Duke of Rutland to paint two further half-length portraits of Lord Robert, again after Dance, noting in his pocket book that ‘the naval uniform must have white cuffs & blue lappels’. Manners may have worn this uniform because of the somewhat unusual circumstances in which he was promoted to the rank of captain in January 1780. At the time, Manners was serving under Admiral George Rodney in the West Indies, who actively looked for ways to promote ambitious and able young men of good family. In order to elevate Manners to post-rank, Rodney raised Captain Sir Chaloner Ogle to the rank of commodore in the ‘Resolution’, 74 guns, and installed the young nobleman under him as the ship’s captain. Having a captain under a commodore was so unusual that the irregularity in the uniform may have been a private arrangement developed to distinguish Captain Manners from Commodore Ogle, who would have worn the standard captain's coat with white facings. The engagement in the background of Reynold’s painting represents the capture of the French ship ‘Protée’, 64 guns, on 24 February 1780 by the British ship ‘Resolution’, 74 guns, the latter flying Ogle’s commodore’s pennant. However, in Dickinson’s print, the pennant has been removed, showing the ‘Resolution’ solely under Manners’s command, as it was after September 1780 when Ogle became rear-admiral and left the ship. For another impression, see PAH5409. (Updated April 2019.)
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