The paintings in this collection portray an entire dynasty of colonial proprietors, the six Lords Baltimore. One after the other, they controlled, in gradually lessening degree, the peopling, the economic development, and the government of Maryland for 137 years.
Collection Location: Enoch Pratt Free Library / State Library Resource Center
Collection Overview: The full-length portraits of the six Lords Baltimore, which hang in the Central Hall of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore's public library*, constitute a series of historical paintings without parallel in America. They portray an entire dynasty of colonial proprietors, the barons of Baltimore, from the founder, who projected the Colony of Maryland, and his son, who in 1634 established the third English foothold in America, to the last Lord, whose death nearly a century and a half later closed the succession. These are the men who owned the soil of Maryland under a charter of feudal type that conveyed one of the most extensive grants of powers conceded by the crown of England during the period of colonization. One after the other, they controlled, in gradually lessening degree, the peopling, the economic development, and the government of Maryland for one hundred and thirty-seven years, save for two short interludes.
These pictures kindle a fresh interest in the history of our country – a varied panorama in which Maryland illustrates the evolution of an idea borrowed from the Middle Ages, cherished for a century and half by noble lords of an aristocratic regime, and transformed by the character and experience of its people into a republican society.
Five of the portraits were presented to the Library in 1940 by Dr. Hugh Hampton Young of Baltimore, who succeeded at great pains in securing them in 1933, when he found that the series had been dispersed at auction in London. The portrait of the second Lord Baltimore had been purchased by Mr. William Randolph Hearst. Dr. Young informed the trustees of the Library that, if this portrait could be acquired by the institution, he would gladly present the other five. This generous promise was fulfilled in 1940, and thus this remarkable series of portraits of six successive generations was permanently reunited in the city that bears the name of the proprietary title.
*The Portraits of the Lords of Baltimore are currently on display in Annapolis at the Maryland State House. The portraits, which have been cleaned and restored, will remain on public display through the Library's renovation process.
The Boy in the Portrait
Letter to the King
Acquisition of the Portraits