Yesterday we managed to purchase this portrait, said to be of ‘Young’ Sir George Booth, 2nd Baronet and 1st Baron Delamer (1622-1684), for Dunham Massey. We are not quite sure yet when this picture left Dunham – it was last offered at auction at Sotheby’s in London in 1980.
The fact that this picture was now being offered in a mixed ‘Interiors’ auction at Christie’s in New York and that we got it for a very modest price seems to indicate (according to our outgoing pictures curator, Alastair Laing) that this type of portrait is currently rather unfashionable in the American market. In some ways the National Trust very much tries to keep abreast of various trends, of course, but in this case we are rather pleased to be out of tune with current tastes.
‘Young’ Sir George Booth’s life illustrates the upheavals of the Civil War, Commonwealth and Restoration periods. He initially supported Parliament, but did not agree with the execution of the King. In 1659 he actually led an uprising against Cromwell in Lancashire and Cheshire. When that was put down he fled disguised as a woman, but was given away by his large feet and need of a shave. When Charles II returned to the throne ‘young’ Sir George was created Baron Delamer, but in other ways he was marginalised and he retired to spend his last years at Dunham.
We are not entirely sure yet whether it is indeed a portrait of ‘young’ Sir George, or perhaps of another member or associate of the Booth family of Dunham – further research will need to be done to establish that. The picture will also need some conservation work before it can go on view at Dunham. As is so often the case, the acquisition of an object is just the beginning.