Georgian portraits on display
The portraits in this room by Sir Godfrey Kneller are of a group of influential Whigs, all members of the Kit-cat Club. The Club was founded by Lord Somers and the publisher Jacob Tonson. It began meeting in Christopher Cat's tavern near Temple Bar, and took its name from his mutton pies known as Kit-cats. The paintings were framed as a set to hang in a special room which Tonson's nephew had built at his house at Barn Elms near Barnes in London. Other portraits in this set are on display at the Gallery's regional partner Beningbrough Hall in Yorkshire.
This room, flanked at one end by a white marble bust of Roubiliac and a bronze bust of Nicholas Hawksmoor, displays portraits of central figures in the artistic and literary world in the first half of the eighteenth century. It includes portraits of the satirist Jonathan Swift and the poet Alexander Pope.
This room has as its central focus a portrait of the diarist John Evelyn, one of two portraits with skulls in this space. The displays includes portraits of John Milton, William Harvey and John Bunyan, and two artist self-portraits in the corners of the room - Mary Beale and Sir Peter Lely.
This large room covers a rich period in British arts. At one end of the room there are two triple portraits of leading figures of the Royal Academy, marking the creation of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1768. The two long walls are dominated by a full-length portrait of George Frideric Handel and David and Eva Maria Garrick and a full-length portrait of Sarah Siddons on the wall opposite. There are numerous self-portraits by the most famous artists of the day, including Ramsay, Gainsborough, Wright of Derby, Barry and Mary Moser.
This room focusses on some of the key figures in scientific and industrial developments in the 18th century. On one wall interest in the natural world is represented by Sir Hans Sloane, and elsewhere engineering with portraits of James Watt and Matthew Boulton. There are a number of medallions, medals and watercolours in a miniature case.
This large room focusses on how Britain became a world power during the 18th century. Companion portraits of George III and Charlotte Sophia of Mecklenburg-Strelitz hang either side of the entrance arch whilst at the other end of the room is the large group portrait of the Death of Chatham, on loan from Tate. Sections of the walls focus on themes: India and the East Indian Company includes portraits of Warren Hastings and Robert Clive meeting Mir Jafar; The Struggle for America includes a portrait of George Washington whilst James Cook is represented in a section on Exploration of the Pacific.
This room between the suite of rooms devoted to the Stuarts and Hanoverians and four rooms dedicated to the Regency includes a seated sculpted portrait of Edward William Lane wearing Turkish dress.