Unknown man, formerly known as John Bull

1 portrait

Unknown man, formerly known as John Bull, by Unknown artist, circa 1600-1620 - NPG 4873 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Unknown man, formerly known as John Bull

by Unknown artist
oil on panel, circa 1600-1620
14 1/8 in. x 10 1/8 in. (360 mm x 258 mm)
Bequeathed by R. Thurston Dart, 1971
Primary Collection
NPG 4873


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Sitterback to top

  • John Bull (1563?-1628), Composer. Sitter associated with 2 portraits.

Artistback to top

This portraitback to top

Stylistically, this portrait appears to be continental rather than English and the sitter's costume reflects late sixteenth and early seventeenth century Dutch or Flemish fashions. It is possible that it depicts the English composer John Bull who served as a royal musician to both Elizabeth I and James I. Bull may have travelled on the continent in around 1602 and he moved to the Netherlands from 1613 until his death. The facial features are remarkably similar to other known portraits of Bull, but without further evidence it is difficult to provide a certain identification. The lyrics on the musical score translate as 'I saw her, I love her, and I will love her', indicating that this portrait may have been a personal love token. Curiously, a large baton (or perhaps a bow) in the man's hand has been partly painted out. It can still just be seen and probably represents a change in the composition by the artist.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Cooper, Tarnya (introduction) Banville, John (character sketch) Chevalier, Tracy (character sketch) Fellowes, Julian (character sketch) McCall Smith, Alexander (character sketch) Pratchett, Terry (character sketch) Singleton, Sarah (character sketch) Trollope, Joanna (character sketch) Waters, Minette (character sketch), Imagined Lives: Portraits of Unknown People, 2011 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from December 2011 - June 2012), p. 29
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 690

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Subjects & Themesback to top