Portrait of a Man

Artist: Robert White (British, London 1645–1703 London)

Date: 1690

Medium: Plumbago on vellum

Dimensions: Oval, 4 1/4 x 3 3/8 in. (106 x 85 mm)

Classification: Miniatures

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1944

Accession Number: 44.36.6

Not on view
Born in London, White studied there with David Loggan (1634–1692). He was a prolific engraver, producing about four hundred engraved portraits, and he made many ad vivum portraits in plumbago (graphite) on vellum. He died in his printshop in Bloomsbury Market.

Despite the inscription on the reverse of a card to which the cover glass is fixed (James 2nd Duke of / Ormond. / (dated 1690.) / died in Avignon / 1745), it is unlikely that this miniature represents James Butler (1665–1745), second duke of Ormonde, who served as lord lieutenant of Ireland. There is a 1682 plumbago by David Loggan purporting to represent Butler (Victoria and Albert Museum, London, no. P.101-1920; see Basil S. Long, Hand-List of Miniatures and Silhouettes, London, 1930, p. 44, fig. 59). The sitters in the Metropolitan and the Victoria and Albert miniatures bear no resemblance to each other. The V&A miniature is, however, similar to two engravings of Ormonde, also in the V&A (no. 29608.G, by S. Gribelin after Dahl, 1713, and no. 22046, by J. Smith after Kneller).

[2015; adapted from Reynolds and Baetjer 1996]
Although the vellum is slightly stained at the edges, this is a fine and well-preserved example of White's work in plumbago. Near the signature, which is rubbed, there is some pencil work on the card backing.

[2015; adapted from Reynolds and Baetjer 1996]
Inscription: Signed and dated (right): Robt Whitef / 1690
J. P. Morgan, New York (until d. 1943; his estate sale, Parke-Bernet, New York, March 24, 1944, no. 402, to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Four Centuries of Miniature Painting," January 19–March 19, 1950, unnumbered cat. (p. 4).

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "European Miniatures in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," November 5, 1996–January 5, 1997, no. 33.

Graham Reynolds with the assistance of Katharine Baetjer. European Miniatures in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1996, p. 84, no. 33, ill. p. 85, doubt the identification of the sitter as James Butler, 2nd Duke of Ormonde, inscribed on the back of this miniature.