attributed to John Riley, Admiral Sir Ralph Delaval

Photo courtesy of Dave Penman (All rights reserved)


Country House
Doddington Hall
Admiral Sir Ralph Delaval
early 1690s
Long Gallery
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Overall height: 124 cm, Overall width: 100 cm
attributed to John Riley (1646-1691)
Catalogue Number
  • Lettered lower left 'ADMIRAL SIR RALPH DELAVAL'


Admiral Sir Ralph Delaval (c.1641–c.1707) was born in Dissington, Northumberland. Following early patronage from James, Duke of York, Delaval rose to become vice admiral of the blue under William III, and vice admiral of the red in 1692, when he commanded HMS Royal Sovereign at the Battle of La Hogue. Following suspicions that he harboured Jacobite sympathies and accusations of ‘notorious and treacherous mismanagement’ of the fleet, Delaval retired to his estates in Northumberland. He is buried at Westminster Abbey. Delaval’s estates passed to his nephew Admiral George Delaval (1668–1723), who commissioned Seaton Delaval from the architect Sir John Vanbrugh, and who was succeeded in turn by his nephew Captain Francis Blake Delaval (1692–1752), the father of Sir John Delaval, who inherited and remodelled Doddington Hall during the 1760s.

The present portrait, which is attributable on stylistic grounds to John Riley, probably dates from the early 1690s, when Delaval was at the height of his naval career. Other portraits of Delaval include the triple portrait with Thomas Philips and John Benbow, c.1692–3, National Maritime Museum, and another version by Thomas Murray with Edward Russell and John Benbow in the Government Art Collection.1 There is also a full length of Delaval in armour by Michael Dahl (but inscribed Kneller) at Seaton Delaval.2 Before it was installed at Doddington the present portrait hung at the Delaval family seat at Seaton Delaval, where it was recorded in 1744.

by Martin Postle


  1. GAC 6436.

  2. NT 1276764.


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