Lords Baltimore together again

May 26, 1992|By John Dorsey | John Dorsey,Art Critic

They're back. From George Calvert, with his Vandyck beard and ruffled collar, and Cecil, with his intelligent gaze, to haughty-looking Charles and literary-minded Frederick, the life-size portraits of the six Lords Baltimore once again look down from the walls of the central hall of the Enoch Pratt Free Library's main building on Cathedral Street.

The Calverts, proprietors of Maryland from 1632 to just before the Revolution, have not been seen as a group in Baltimore since before 1985, when they were sent to Annapolis for the 350th anniversary of the founding of Maryland. After they returned, it was decided that they needed restoration, but the Pratt's trustees only recently raised privately the approximately $20,000 needed for restoration of the portraits and their frames, accomplished since last fall. The six newly restored portraits were rehung Friday in the hall that has been home to them since the mid-1930s.

The paintings originally came to the Pratt through the efforts of Dr. Hugh H. Young, a famous Baltimore surgeon. In 1933, Sir Timothy Eden, descendant of the Lords Baltimore (and brother of subsequent prime minister Anthony Eden) put the portraits up for sale at Sotheby's in London. But only two portraits, those of the second and fifth lords Baltimore, sold at auction. Dr. Young bought the other four from Sir Timothy and acquired the Fifth Lord Baltimore from the buyer.

The Second Lord Baltimore, by Gerard Soest, court painter to Charles II, has been regarded as the best of the six portraits. It was bought by the art dealer Lord Duveen and eventually by press baron William Randolph Hearst. Dr. Young placed his five portraits on loan to the Pratt and offered to give them to the library if it could obtain the Soest portrait. That was done in 1940.

A Pratt brochure on the portraits contains verbal sketches of the Calverts that reveal them as a mixed bag. Daniel Mytens the elder, court painter to James I and Charles I, painted the portrait of George Calvert, created First Baron Baltimore by James I in 1625. A statesman, George drew up the charter for the proprietorship of Maryland but died before it could be passed. His son, Cecil Calvert, Second Lord Baltimore, became the first proprietor in 1632, died in 1675, and is described as wise, farsighted and tolerant.

Charles, Third Lord Baltimore (proprietor 1675-1715), became governor of Maryland while his father was alive and later was first resident proprietor. He is described as firm of will but lacking in prudence. His portrait is by Sir Godfrey Kneller, court painter to successive English sovereigns.

Benedict Calvert, fourth Lord Baltimore (1715), held the title for only two months before he died. The artist of the portrait is unknown. Charles Calvert, Fifth Lord Baltimore (1715-1751), was a courtier described as "honest, good-natured, but weak." His portrait is attributed to Allan Ramsay, court painter to George III.

German artist Johan Ludwig Tietz painted Frederick, Sixth Lord Baltimore (1751-1771), who never visited Maryland and regarded it principally as a source of income. But he appointed as governor the respected Robert Eden, husband of his sister, Caroline. Robert and Caroline Eden's great-great-grandson, the Timothy Eden who sold the portraits, wrote in 1933, "If they all go to America I shall be well pleased, for I know that they will be appreciated there."

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