Allegory of hubris
100cx100cm oil on canvas, framed.
This work pays homage to Rubens’ equestrian portrait of the Duke of Buckingham. A divisive character, the Duke commissioned self-dramatising portraits to promote his political career. In an act of “arrogance and caprice”, he requested to be looked up to by Neptune to suggest his dominion over the sea. Overhead, a winged allegory of Fame signals victory (which evaded the commander in real life) with trumpet in hand. The curiously proportioned horse is a Spanish jennet, a breed the Duke introduced to Britain. With this contemporary interpretation we see the Duke reappointed as an Apollo astronaut, challenging our understanding of influence and accomplishment. The Duke was later assassinated and where his powerful fleet was once depicted we see signs of contemporary conflict.