A rare proof before title engraving of 1st Earl of Nottingham from Tusmore House in 4th Earl of Effingham's collection

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A rare 1739 'proof before title' engraving of the 1st Earl of Nottingham, Charles Howard (1536-1624) Queen Elizabeth's Lord High Admiral by Jacobus Houbraken (1698-1780).   The engraving belonged to Lord Howard, 4th Earl Effingham who was a descendant of the 1st Earl of Nottingham.   When the 4th Earl died in 1927 many of his possessions from Tusmore House in Oxfordshire, the family seat, were sold off in Lord Howard's sale, one of the many country house sales that occurred between the wars.  This engraving, being a proof before title, was worthy of retaining by the family and was purchased by another descendant, Edith Mary Howard (1888-1936) in the sale.   Edith had this reframed by the well known print dealers and framers, Frederick B. Daniell and son of 32 Cranbourn St, London in the late 1920s.

Charles Howard, Baron of Effingham and Earl of Nottingham Charles Howard, Baron of Effingham and Earl of Nottingham  Charles Howard - better known as Lord Howard of Effingham - was an Elizabethan courtier and admiral, best known for his role in the defeat of the Spanish Armada and his assault on the Spanish city of Cadiz.

Charles Howard was born in 1536. Through his father, William Howard, first Baron Howard of Effingham, he was related to Elizabeth I. In 1559, Howard was made ambassador to France and held a number of other official positions, including commissioner at the trial of Mary Queen of Scots. In addition to his interests at court and in government, Howard was also a patron of the theatre. In 1576, a company of actors known as Lord Howard's Men was formed (they later became known as the Admiral's Men), and they are linked to the first performances of Shakespeare's 'Richard III'.

In 1573, Howard succeeded to his father's title. In 1585, he was appointed lord admiral of England, despite having only limited experience at sea. Thus he was in command of the Royal Navy when the Spanish Armada sailed to attack Britain in 1588. Although he was not as talented a seaman as his second in command, Sir Francis Drake, his prudent leadership, including deferring to Drake, contributed to the eventual defeat of the Armada. In 1596, Howard and the Earl of Essex were sent to forestall another Spanish attack, this time with an assault on the port of Cadiz. The attempt was successful, and Howard was created Earl of Nottingham in recognition of his services. In 1599, at a time of yet further anxiety over Spain, Howard was given the highly exceptional office of lord lieutenant general of England.

In 1601, the earl of Essex led an uprising against the government, which Howard helped to suppress, and which led to the rebel earl's execution. Howard remained on good terms with the queen, and when she lay dying it is supposedly to him that she named James VI of Scotland as her successor.

During James's reign Howard again served in a number of official positions. He died on 14 December 1624.

As this engraving is rare example being a 'proof before title' - an impression taken when the plate is new, there are various types of proof generated by printers for the fancies of the artist or collectors of the time.

As can be seen neither the name of 1st Earl of Nottingham is showing around the head of the Earl and neither is the publisher or title recorded below, just the engraver's details.  It is possible such an early proof passed directly to the Howard family as a rare edition before general publication.

The later editions of the line egraving by Jacobus Houbraken, published by John & Paul Knapton, is after Daniel Mytens.

This 'proof before title' edition has the added provenance of having been in the possession  of the Howard family.

The details of the purchase and ownership are recorded verso.

 English, 1739