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This group portrait was commissioned by John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute, who served as Prime Minister (1762–3). Bute’s sons have abandoned their game of archery to go bird-nesting. On the left in blue is William Stuart, who would later become Archbishop of Armagh. Sitting in the tree is Charles Stuart, later a Lieutenant General in the army. The setting for the portrait is Bute’s country estate, Luton Park, Bedfordshire, which he acquired in 1763. The painting displays both Bute’s progeny and his position as an important landowner.

February 2016