John Smith after Sir Godfrey Kneller
John, Earl of Mar
Lord Erskine Garioch & Alloa, Heritable Governor Constable & Captain of Starling Castle, Principal Secretary of State for Scotland, one of Her Majesties most Honourable Privy Council of Great Britain and Knight of the most Ancient and most Noble Order of ye Thistle &c
15 x 20.5 inches
Mezzotint portrait within an etched border, engraved by John Smith after the portrait by Kneller; published in London in 1707.
This rather splendid half-length portrait set in an oval frame shows just how many titles it was possible to accumulate (and still is!) if you were in favour at court during the reign of Queen Anne. What is of particular interest here is that John Erskine, the Earl of Mar, was the first person to take this post as it was only created in 1707 following Queen Anne's famous Act of Union.
Erskine acquired the nickname "Bobbing John" for his political ambivalence and the way he so easily switched between Tory and Wig, Jacobite and Hanoverian. Whilst he enjoyed full patronage and favour under Queen Anne he soon fell out with the new king, George I, and went on to lead a Jacobite rebellion against the Hanoverian Court. We see him here, aged 32, at the height of his prowess and political influence. Sir Godfrey Kneller was undisputed as the top portrait painter of his generation and who better to commit his paintings to print that John Smith, the master mezzotint engraver of his age.