John Campbell, second duke of Argyll and duke of Greenwich, c. 1718–25
This lushly painted, striking portrait of a prominent military leader from Scotland, one of the most powerful figures at the court of George I, illustrates the high level of artistic quality characteristic of the best of the Westover works. It also demonstrates the elevated social standing that William Byrd II achieved in London. In this portrait, Argyll proudly wears the blue velvet mantle and embroidered star of the Garter that he was awarded in 1710. Not only a member of Britain's most elite order of knighthood, Argyll was also a duke, the highest title in peerage. Argyll valued the friendship of Byrd for three decades.
John Campbell's early accomplishments came as both a soldier and a statesman. By age twenty-five he had inherited his dukedom and had distinguished himself as a military leader. Before he was thirty, Argyll had swayed the Scottish parliament to accept the 1707 union with England. A man of temper and impetuosity, Argyll proved to be better suited to the battlefield than to politics. His instinct for passion over prudence is suggested in this portrait.
Byrd and Campbell must have been introduced when both were young men completing their education in London in the 1690s. In later years Argyll invited Byrd for days at a time to his country house outside of London.