Portrait of George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham (1592-1628) by Rubens
Within the grounds of The Lodge in the centre of Dromahair, the tall imposing ruin called Villiers Castle is named after George Villiers who was granted the property of the last ruling Irish chieftain , Brian O Rourke , executed by Queen Elizabeth 1 for assisting survivors of the Spanish Armada. Other pages here relate some history : Villiers Castle
He was a favourite of two English kings James 1st and Charles 1st and an art collector himself , many portraits and illustrations of him exist (below). He excelled at attracting attention, employing artists as well as Van Dyck and Rubens to paint his portraits as “a medium for the cultivation of his personal image”.
He once presented himself at French court, where, when he advanced towards the queen, the court was enthralled as loosely sewn pearls on his clothes dropped to the floor in his wake. On the other hand he gained many enemies, was implicated in intrigues and corruption scandals, especially in Ireland. He advanced the Elizabethan plantation significantly, acquiring many properties in the process. Illustrations of him included one of him on his deathbed following his assassination in Portsmouth. He features as a main historical character in the novel, ‘The Three Musketeers’ where his death at a young age is dramatised. He has a magnificent tomb at Westminster Abbey.
Most recently (2017) a portrait long thought to be a copy of a masterpiece by Rubens has been authenticated as being in fact the original. International newspapers carried the story. Rubens painted two other significant paintings of him , although the originals no longer exist, sketches and copies survive.
Rubens Oil Sketch : Minerva and Mercury Conduct the Duke of Buckingham to the Temple of Virtue, National Gallery London. Copy painted on the ceiling of York House.
Equestrian Portrait oil sketch of the Duke of Buckingham by Peter Paul Rubens
Video Clips BBC