Sir Kenelm Digby (1603–1665)

Image credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

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A half-length portrait to left, with Digby in black and his right hand on his breast. The presence of a sunflower on the left is an allegorical symbol indicating his deep loyalty and constancy to the monarch, Charles I. Digby, whose father was executed for involvement in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, was a courtier, naval commander, diplomat and author of books on philosophy and natural science. In 1625 he married Venetia Stanley. Noted for her beauty and intelligence, she was alleged to have been the mistress of Edward Sackville, 4th Earl of Dorset, while she was betrothed to Digby, who was abroad at the time. Digby detailed his romance to Venetia in his memoirs, 'Loose Fantasies'. Venetia was also the subject of several portraits by van Dyck but after nine years of marriage she died suddenly in 1633, after which the artist, a personal friend of her husband, painted the famous 'Lady Venetia Digby on her Deathbed' for him.

National Maritime Museum



Sir Kenelm Digby (1603–1665)




oil on canvas


H 91.5 x W 71 cm

Accession number


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