Curators Choice – Arthur Herbert Portrait

A large oil painting hangs in the Entrance Hall of Normanby Hall. It was painted by John Baptist Closterman around 1700, and shows Arthur Herbert, the Earl of Torrington.

Arthur Herbert joined the navy in 1663 and served during several battles, before being promoted to captain in 1666. In 1671, Herbert’s ship fought two Barbary corsair ships in the Mediterranean. During this fight, Herbert was shot in the face. The bullet narrowly missed his right eye and left a prominent scar. When Herbert had his portrait painted by Closterman, the scar was included. But at some point, probably in the 18th century, the scar was painted over. It wasn’t revealed again until the painting underwent conservation work in 2002. The portrait is almost unique, in showing what would have been considered an ‘imperfection’ at that time.

The portrait of Arthur Herbert prior to conservation in 2002.

In this video, Collections Assistant Decorative Arts Madeleine Gray, takes a closer look at the portrait of Arthur Herbert by John Baptist Closterman.

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