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This figure stands before the sea in a blue coat embroidered with gold and a white waistcoat, indicating his position as vice-admiral in the English navy. In spite of the sophisticated trappings and dignified pose, Tarkington perceived a “spirited” jolliness in the man’s plump frame and ruddy cheeks.
He believed the portrait to represent the extremely wealthy Vice-Admiral Edward Hughes, who was renowned for his appreciation of fine food. Tarkington fondly described him as a “salted and port-and-sherried old English beef,” who was caught here “waddl[ing] along the sea cliffs after a heavy dinner.” Tarkington generally favored English portraits. Stuart, although American, worked for decades in England and Ireland.