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Captain John Hunnynge, aged 26

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Britain (probably, made)

  • Date:

    1585 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    oil on panel

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Thomas Stainton

  • Museum number:

    176-1880

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 58, case WW, shelf FS

Object Type
This painting seems to be one of a series of portraits of Elizabeth I's commanders in the wars against the Spanish. They all show military men, armed and very richly dressed, often with a depiction of a battle in the background.

People
This may be a portrait of Captain John Hunnynge (1557-1586), one of the brave men the Queen sent out to The Netherlands in 1585, under the incompetent leadership of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. The English forces were allies of the Dutch in their bitter struggle against their oppressive Spanish rulers.

Subjects Depicted
Hunnynge's splendid outfit includes an unusual cap, which has on the front the spines of a porcupine. Other commanders in portraits of this period wear this kind of cap. It may be significant that the badge of Sir Philip Sydney, who also took part in the campaign, was the porcupine, symbolising obstinate defence. A full-length portrait of the naval commander Sir Francis Drake in the National Portrait Gallery, London, also includes a soft cap with porcupine quills on the front. Sydney was killed in The Netherlands in 1586, at the battle of Zutphen. Since John Hunnynge died in the same year, it may be that he perished there as well.

Physical description

Portrait of a man

Place of Origin

Britain (probably, made)

Date

1585 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

oil on panel

Marks and inscriptions

Fato lubenter sedens [sic] tam mare quam terra
Willingly yielding to fate just as much at sea as on land
Latin; Oil paint

Dimensions

Height: 68.8 cm, Width: 52.8 cm, Depth: 1.5 cm on backing, Height: 84.9 cm framed, Width: 70.2 cm framed, Depth: 10 cm framed

Object history note

Given by Thomas Stainton, 1880
Painted by an unidentified artist of the English School.

Historical context note

This work is conceived in the same manner as a number of three-quarter length portraits of gentlemen-at-arms produced during the 1580s. See for example the portrait of Sir Edward Hoby (1560-1617) in the National Portrait Gallery (NPG 1947) and, particularly, the portrait of Peregrine Bertie, 13th Baron Willoughby (1555-1601) at Grimsthorpe Castle. The latter, who was a lieuteneant of Sir Philip Sidney in the Netherlands, and governor of Bergen op Zoom, is represented with a view of Bergen in the upper right background, and also wearing a soft hat with porcupine quills projecting from the hat band.

Descriptive line

Oil painting, 'Captain John Hunnynge, aged 26', British School, 1585 (formerly called Commander Honing)

Labels and date

This picture may be a portrait of one of the brave men Queen Elizabeth I sent out in 1585 under the incompetent leadership of the Earl of Leicester. They were allies of the Dutch in the bitter struggle against the Spanish. Hunnynge's splendid outfit includes an unusual cap which has on the front the spines of a porcupine. This kind of cap is worn by other commanders in portraits of this period and it may be significant that Sir Philip Sydney's badge was the porcupine, symbolising obstinate defence. Sydney was killed at the battle of Zutphen in 1586 and as John Hunnynge is said to have died in the same year, it may be that he perished there as well. [27/03/2003]

Materials

Oil paint; Panel

Techniques

Oil painting

Categories

British Galleries; Paintings; Portraits; Men's clothes; Hats & headwear; Uniform; War

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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