Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Admiral Harry Paulet (1719/20–1794), Sixth Duke of Bolton

Francis Cotes (British, London 1726–1770 Richmond)
Oil on canvas
50 x 40 in. (127 x 101.6 cm)
Credit Line:
Bequest of Jacob Ruppert, 1939
Accession Number:
Not on view
Cotes underpainted the face but never completed it; the sitter accepted the portrait nevertheless. The fine detailing of the lace, buttons, and braid of his uniform is typical of the artist's style.
Harry Paulet, the second son of the fourth Duke of Bolton, joined the navy and in 1740 was promoted to the rank of captain. He was unflatteringly depicted as Captain Whiffle in Tobias Smollett’s novel of 1748, The Adventures of Roderick Random, and thirty years later Horace Walpole called him "a silly, brutal, proud man" (G. E. Cokayne, The Complete Peerage of England . . . , 2nd ed., ed. Vicary Gibbs, London, 1912, vol. 2, p. 215 n. b). Paulet nevertheless advanced, attaining the rank of rear admiral of the White Squadron in 1756, and vice admiral of the White in 1775.

Paulet’s first wife died in 1764, and a year later he married Katharine, younger sister of the first Earl of Lonsdale; there were no sons of either marriage. After his older brother's death in 1765, the admiral succeeded as sixth Duke of Bolton. He died at Hackwood Park in 1794. Paulet’s eldest daughter married the fifth Earl of Sandwich and was the mother of the Viscountess Templetown mentioned in the inscription on the back of the canvas.

Cotes was influenced by and tried to compete with Reynolds. An engraving by James Watson of Reynolds’s 1761 portrait of Admiral George Bridges Rodney was shown at the Society of Artists in 1762, and Edward Mead Johnson (1976) has suggested that Cotes, who was also exhibiting, saw Watson’s print and adopted Reynolds’s composition for this work. While there may be a connection, the formula had been popular since the seventeenth century. Perhaps Paulet commissioned the portrait to celebrate his second marriage or his succession to the title, both in 1765. Cotes underpainted but never completed the face, yet the sitter apparently accepted the canvas. The outlines are carefully delineated, as was Cotes’s practice, while the chalky colors read well from a distance. Typical also are the legibility and fine handling of the lace, buttons, and gold braid of the sitter’s splendid uniform.

[2010; adapted from Baetjer 2009]
Inscription: Inscribed (reverse): Harry 6th and last Duke of Bolton. / Grandfather of Viscountess Templetown.
Harry Paulet, 6th Duke of Bolton (until d. 1794); his granddaughter, Lady Mary Montagu, later Viscountess Templetown (1794–d. 1824); her son, Henry Montagu Upton, 2nd Viscount Templetown, Castle Upton, Co. Antrim, Ireland (1824–d. 1863); his brother, George Frederick Upton, 3rd Viscount Templetown, Castle Upton (from 1863); Arthur Sanderson, Edinburgh; [Tooth, London, until 1911; sold for £350 to Knoedler]; [Knoedler, New York, 1911–12; sold for $4,500 to Reid]; Daniel Gray Reid, New York (1912–17; sold for $2,000 to Knoedler); [Knoedler, New York, 1917–18; sold for $4,200 to Scott & Fowles]; [Scott & Fowles, New York, 1918–30; sold to Ruppert]; Colonel Jacob Ruppert, New York and Garrison, N.Y. (1930–d. 1939)
New York. University Club. October 13, 1948–March 20, 1949.

Hermann Warner Williams Jr. "The Bequest of Jacob Ruppert." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 34 (July 1939), p. 168, fig. 2, calls the portrait a late work, perhaps from the 1760s, and mentions the nickname by which Paulet was disparagingly known, Captain Sternpost.

Edward Mead Johnson. Francis Cotes: Complete Edition with a Critical Essay and a Catalogue. Oxford, 1976, pp. 15, 66–67, no. 109, fig. 30, dates it about 1762; proposes that Cotes may have based the composition on Reynolds's 1761 portrait of Lord Rodney (Petworth), the engraving of which by James Watson was exhibited at the Society of Artists, where Cotes also exhibited, in 1762.

Stephen Wood. Letter to Katharine Baetjer. April 8, 1998, notes that he wears an admiral's coat and is probably depicted as vice admiral of the White [Squadron].

Katharine Baetjer. "British Portraits in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 57 (Summer 1999), pp. 34–35, ill. (color), observes that although Cotes underpainted but never completed the face, the sitter must have accepted the portrait, which descended in his family; suggests that the commission may have been inspired by his second marriage, in April 1765, or by his succession to the dukedom of Bolton, which took place two [sic] months later.

Katharine Baetjer. British Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1575–1875. New York, 2009, pp. 90–92, no. 39, ill. (color).

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