- Also known as
John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute
primary name: Stuart, John
other name: (Earl of) Bute
- individual; politician/statesman; scientist/engineer; British; Male
- Life dates
- Politician, botanist, patron of the arts and sciences. Rose to prominence as tutor to the future George III and subsequently First Lord of the Treasury, 1762-3. By the end of the 1760s his influence on the king had waned and he concentrated on intellectual pursuits, but his enemies suspected him of wielding power behind the throne until the end of his life. In satirical prints he is often referred to as Sejanus who wielded influence over the Emperor Tiberius, Roger Mortimer, Earl of March, who had toppled Edward II and was lover of his wife Queen Isabella, or Gisbal, with his "upright staff", eponymous hero of "an hyperborean tale: translated from the fragments of Ossian the son of Fingal", published in 1762.
He had a large collection of prints which was auctioned in 1794 by Hutchins, of which the title-page reads: 'A Catalogue of the Extensive and Capital Collection of Prints, of the Rt. Hon. the Earl of Bute, Deceased, Consisting of the Italian, German, Flemish, Dutch, French and English Schools, In Fine Condition, and of the Best Impressions, more particularly in the works of Rubens, Van Dyck, Poussin, Visscher, Drevet, Edelinck, and Rembrandt, Many of them being Proofs before the Letters, and with curious variations. Likewise several excellent Books of Prints and Portfolios, Elegantly bound in Morocco, Russia, &c. Which (by Order of the Executors) will be sold by auction, by Mr. Hutchins, at his rooms in King-Street, and Hart-Street, Covent Garden, on Monday, March 31st, 1794, and the sixteen following days at Twelve o’Clock' (see Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) database.
An exhibition of his collection of paintings held at the Hunterian, University of Glasgow, and Mount Stuart on the Isle of Bute in 2017 showed that he was instrumental in introducing the taste for Dutch and Flemish paintings to Britain (many purchased for him in the Low Countries by William Baillie (q.v.)); he also had a fine collection of Italian paintings and major portraits commissioned from Allan Ramsay, Joshua Reynolds and other contemporaries. His paintings were chiefly held at Luton Hoo, but after that house was lost to fire in the 19th century, were transferred to Mount Stuart; a ms. catalogue is preserved in the archive there.
John Brewer, "The Misfortunes of Lord Bute: A Case-Study in Eighteenth-Century Political Argument and Public Opinion", The Historical Journal,Vol. 16, No. 1 (March 1973), pp. 3-43