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John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich
, c.1774

by Valentine Green (engraver) after Johann Zoffany

mezzotint (sheet: 48.3 cm x 35.5 cm, plate-mark: 44.3 cm x 35.5 cm)

John Montagu, fourth Earl of Sandwich (1718-1792) was first lord of the Admiralty for three spells, notably from 1771 to 1782, the period of James Cook’s second and third voyages. Montagu became the earl at the age of ten, was educated at Eton and Cambridge, made a ‘grand tour’ and extended his travels through the Ottoman Empire, developing an interest in Orientalism. Returning to England in 1739, he took his seat in the House of Lords, aligning himself with the wealthy Duke of Bedford. When Bedford became first lord of the Admiralty in 1744, Sandwich became his de facto deputy. Incidentally, he became an army officer, rising to the rank of general without engaging in any military business. After a spell as a diplomat, he became first lord of the Admiralty for the first of three periods in 1748. Havingas ambassador to Madrid, northern secretary and postmaster general in the 1760s, he was first lord of the Admiralty for the third time from 1771 to 1782, during most of the American war of independence. He was a great supporter of Cook, whom he promoted to commander in August 1771, and it was he who commissioned John Hawkesworth to put together the account of the Endeavour voyage. Cook named various places in his honour, including the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) and Montague Island, off the coast of Narooma, NSW. The sandwich is said to be named after him, also.

This mezzotint is a rare specimen of a proof state printed 'before letters', that is, before the caption was ready for printing.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2015
Accession number: 2015.71