John Sidney, 6th Earl of Leicester

Joseph Highmore, 1692 - 1780

John Sidney, 6th Earl of Leicester

Joseph Highmore 1692 - 1780


A head-and-shoulders portrait of a rosy-complexioned gentleman with clear grey eyes. He wears a long white softly-curling wig with a centre parting, and a white lace cravat under an unbuttoned tan jacket. His shoulders are three-quarters turned to the left. The portrait is contained in a plain dark buff oval in a feigned black surround. The gentleman, John Sidney, 6th Earl of Leicester (1680-1737), wears the regalia of the Order of the Bath (a medieval society, revived by King George I in 1725 as an additional source of political reward). This consists of a red sash, called a 'ribbon', worn diagonally across his chest from his right shoulder, and a silver-braid star on his left breast. Within the star is embroidered the motto, 'TRIA IUNCTA IN UNO', or 'three joined in one', and within the motto are three crowns. When this portrait was painted Sidney was a Lord of the Bedchamber, Warden of the Cinque Ports and Lord Lieutenant of Kent. Before his death in 1737 he had become constable of the Tower of London and a Privy Councillor.

Display Label

Gallery text panel Face and Place Portraiture and Landscape in the 18th Century A dramatic growth in Britain's wealth during the 1700s brought about an increased demand for art and design. Hundreds of grand houses were built or improved and many were filled with impressive private collections. The prominent display of paintings and decorative arts demonstrated their owners' status and taste. Portraiture became particularly fashionable, leading to rising numbers of 'face painters' and to an increase in the quality of their work. The ability to capture a likeness was most important but artists could also enhance a sitter's image with qualities such as prestige, wisdom or power. New public exhibitions gave artists a shop window and the Royal Academy, founded in 1768, organised the most important annual show. Amid this developing climate of enthusiasm for art, landscape painting also began its remarkable evolution. Landscape arose from a need to accurately record views and was first thought to be of little artistic merit. But as painters grew in confidence during the later 1700s it was treated with more creativity and seriousness, establishing a distinctive tradition in British art.

Object Name

John Sidney, 6th Earl of Leicester

Creators Name

Joseph Highmore

Date Created



support: 76.2cm x 63.5cm
framed (approx): 90.5 x 78.4

accession number


Place of creation





oil paint




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