James Latham

The Rt Hon. Sir Capel Molyneux


Not on display

James Latham 1696–1747
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1346 × 1080 mm
Purchased 1947

Display caption

Sir Capel Molyneux (1717-1797) of Castle Dillon, Co. Armagh, succeeded his elder brother as 3rd Baronet in 1738. It is likely that the portrait

was painted soon afterwards to mark this event - so the later inscription may record its correct date. The sitter holds a paper inscribed ‘Plan of Improvements’, perhaps to suggest his lofty aspirations in public life. Molyneux was Member of Parliament for Dublin University 1769-76. Latham was the leading Irish portrait painter of the early eighteenth century. He studied in Antwerp in the 1720s and brought back a sense of lively Baroque


, bold and colourful brushwork.

Gallery label, February 2010

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Catalogue entry

N05801 The Rt Hon. Sir Capel Molyneux 3rd Bart 1740

Oil on canvas 1346 x 1080 (53 x 42 1/2)
Inscribed ‘Rt. Honse. Sr. Capel Molyneux Bart.
‘Member for the University 1740’ upper centre left, probably in a late eighteenth-century hand
Purchased (Grant-in-Aid) 1947

PROVENANCE ...;? by descent to Mrs J.E.M. Talbot, only daughter of Sir Capel Molyneux, 7th Bart; first recorded at Castle Dillon 1913, but not in Castle Dillon sale 2–4 October 1923; ...; anon. sale, Knight, Frank & Rutley, 5 March 1926 (304) bt Agnew, from whom bt by Tate Gallery

EXHIBITED Old Masters, Agnew's June 1933 (40 as by William Hoare)

Sir Capel Molyneux (1718–97) of Castle Dillon, Co. Armagh, was one of the sixteen children of Sir Thomas, 1st Bart, Physician General to the Army in Ireland and President of the College of Physicians of Ireland, and his wife Catherine Howard. He attended Trinity College, Dublin, 1734–7, and succeeded his brother as 3rd Bart in 1739. He was MP for Dublin University 1769–76, which gives a post quem date for the inscription, which, however, there is no reason to doubt, as the portrait was probably painted in 1740 to mark the sitter's recent accession to the title.

The portrait is first recorded in an inventory of pictures at Castle Dillon, the property of Mrs Talbot, taken in October 1913 (kindly communicated by Miss Eileen Black, Ulster Museum). Then and subsequently attributed to William Hoare, it was reattributed to Latham by the Knight of Glin in 1973.

There is a large group portrait of Sir Capel Molyneux and his four children by John Astley, signed and dated 1758, also originally from Castle Dillon (on permanent loan to the Ulster Museum, Belfast), in which the likeness corresponds well with this portrait.

Published in:
Elizabeth Einberg and Judy Egerton, The Age of Hogarth: British Painters Born 1675-1709, Tate Gallery Collections, II, London 1988

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