by Unknown artist
oil on canvas, circa 1690
49 7/8 in. x 40 3/4 in. (1268 mm x 1035 mm)
Click on the links below to find out more:
Sitterback to top
- Eleanor James (active 1685-1715), Printer and political writer. Sitter in 1 portrait.
This portraitback to top
The wife of a London printer, Thomas James, 'a man that reads much, knows his business well, and is...something the better known for being husband to that she-state-politician Mrs Eleanor James', she was herself described by a contemporary as 'a mixture of benevolence and madness'. She published pamphlets and broadsheets of advice to the reigning sovereigns from Charles II to George I and this portrait by an unknown artist well conveys the force and idiosyncracy of her character. A religious enthusiast, and instinctively intolerant, she published in 1687 her Vindication of the Church of England, which is included in this portrait. She was much satirised and for a time imprisoned in Newgate.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Ingamells, John, Later Stuart Portraits 1685-1714, 2009, p. 132
- Piper, David, The English Face, 1992, p. 109
- Ribeiro, Aileen, The Gallery of Fashion, 2000, p. 93
- Ribeiro, Aileen; Blackman, Cally, A Portrait of Fashion: Six Centuries of Dress at the National Portrait Gallery, 2015, p. 107
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 333
Subjects & Themesback to top
Events of 1690back to top
Current affairsWilliam III, forced to leave England to fight in Ireland, empowers Mary II, through the Regency Act, to exercise authority in his absence. William, however, unwilling to rest power solely with Mary, appoints a council of nine statesmen directly answerable to the absent king.
Art and sciencePhilosopher, John Locke, publishes An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding and Treatises on Government, in which he sets out his notion that human understanding is derived from experience. Naturalist, John Ray, publishes Synopsis methodica stirpium Britannicarum. It became the most consulted book for the classification of British plants.
InternationalWilliam III lands in Ireland with an allied force of Protestant fighters from European states to fight French and Irish troops under James II. William's victory at the Battle of the Boyne forces James to flee into permanent exile. French defeat the English at the naval battle of Beachy Head.
See this portrait
On display at Gawthorpe Hall, Burnley
Exhibitions and displays
- Framing the Face: Collars and Ruffs
Until 16 July
- Reproducing Fame: Printmakers and the Nineteenth Century Stage
Until 2 July
- Portrait of the Day: Augustus Pugin
31 January, 12:30