The Fashionable Male: Sir Brooke Boothby | Marie Antoinette's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century: The Fashionable Male: Sir Brooke Boothby

December 16, 2010

The Fashionable Male: Sir Brooke Boothby

 Joseph Wright, Sir Brooke Boothby. 1781, Oil on canvas. Tate Gallery.

Here we have Sir Brooke Boothby, a poet of sonnets.  He was also a writer, publishing his reflections on the French Revolution in 1791 in "A Letter to the Right Honorable Edmund Burke," and again in 1792 with "Observations on the Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs, and on Mr. Paine's Rights of Man. in Two Parts."

Here Sir Boothby lounges in a wooded patch of land surrounded by vegetation and a few sun spots.  A little stream of water runs across stones in front of him.  The sun sets in the background offering a warm glow on Brooke; the setting provides the ideal place to escape, read and reflect.  He has just paused from reading Rousseau, according to the Tate this references his publication of the philosopher's Dialogues. 

Brooke wears a frock coat with a turned down collar over a matching waistcoat that appears to be cut across the waist.  His breeches feature cloth covered buttons that mimic those on his sleeves.  He turns towards us with his waistcoat partly unbuttoned.  This suggests that he has been reading alone for a while, unsuspecting of company.  With camel gloves and and modern hat, Boothby at 36 years old, is a truly well educated, enlightened and fashionable male.


  1. His life turned most tragic with the death of his daughter, Penelope. See my post -

  2. I have to admit that I always found his British simplicity of dress and his obvious passion for literature and nature, combined with the relaxed pose, very very attractive.

  3. Very nicely dressed I love the gloves. It is fitting that he would be out in nature reading Rousseau.

  4. My apologies that my link doesn't work; it can be found on my blog under the label Poetry and includes an excerpt of a Sonnet by Boothby, one of many he wrote after the loss of his daughter.

  5. Does anyone actually believe it is possible a man could lie in that position to relax? Perhaps I am prejudiced by my dislike of Rousseau and his influence. I would love to know Boothby's wife's story.

  6. @dorothy ha! good point! I have not looked into the Mrs may have to do that...

    @alaine thank you for the link!

    @Alisa :o) agreed!

    @Andrew1860 Aren't the gloves the perfect touch to the otherwise simple outfit?

  7. I love this painting so much. He is so relaxed, composed, and thoughtful. :)

  8. I had a serious crush on that portrait when I was a sappy teenager...