attributed to Edward Gibson, Unknown Man, possibly Thomas Strangways II (1683–1726)

Photo courtesy of Dave Penman (All Rights Reserved)


Country House
Mells Manor
Unknown Man, possibly Thomas Strangways II (1683–1726)
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Overall height: 74.5 cm, Overall width: 61 cm
attributed to Edward Gibson (fl. 1668/9-1701)
Catalogue Number


This portrait of an unknown sitter can be dated by his costume to c.1695–1710. Both costume and pose are closely similar to Portrait of an Unknown Man formerly known as Daniel Purcell (c.1700, National Portrait Gallery, London, NPG 1643), by an unknown artist. Based on the sitter’s features and softness of handling, the portrait can be attributed to Edward Gibson (1668/9–1701), who worked primarily in pastels but was also known to paint in oils. Gibson was the son of Richard Gibson (1605/15?–1690), a miniaturist and royal drawing-master. Few works attributed to Edward Gibson survive but his self-portrait (c.1690, NPG 1880) and portrait of Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset (c.1680–90, Syon House), both in pastel, show similarities of composition and technique to this painting. Edward Gibson’s sister, Susan Penelope Rosse (1653–1700), was a distinguished miniaturist and a miniature attributed to her is also at Mells (see MM38).

 The identity of the sitter has been lost but based on his age and the date of the portrait, may be Thomas Strangways II (c.1683–1726), the second but eldest surviving son of Thomas Strangways I and Susan Ridout of Melbury Sampford, Dorset. He also has some facial similarities with a portrait of the young Strangways in a family group by Thomas Hill painted in a mural on the staircase at Melbury House, Dorset.1 Strangways was educated at Hart Hall, Oxford and served as MP for Bridport from 1705 to 1713 and for Dorset from 1713 to 1726. Under Queen Anne, Strangways was a Tory and a member of the October Club; after the Hanoverian succession he was an opponent of the administration and harboured Jacobite sympathies. Strangways married Mary Vaughan of Llangwydden, but died on 23 September 1726 without issue. His estate passed to his sister, Susanna Strangways (1690–1758) who married Thomas Horner, eldest surviving son of George Horner II (MM42) and Elizabeth Fortescue (possibly MM40). The Melbury estate consequently passed into the Horner family.

by Amy Lim


  1. An Inventory of Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset, London: HMSO, 1952, p. 166.


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