A courtier and favourite of James I and later Henrietta Maria, whose marriage with Charles I he helped to negotiate, it was said that Rich's 'features and pleasant aspect equalled the most beautiful women'. He was opposed to the policies of Laud and Strafford and first fought on the side of the Parliamentarians during the Civil War, but he changed allegiances several times, giving his support to whichever party seemed to offer the greatest rewards, since he thought 'poverty to be the most insupportable evil that could befall any man in this world'. Eventually he was captured and executed by Parliament. The ships and harbour pictured in the background may refer to Rich's position as governor and captain of Harwich and Landguard-point.
Where to see this painting?
National Portrait Gallery, London
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