Sir Kenelm Digby

1 portrait

Sir Kenelm Digby, by Sir Anthony van Dyck, circa 1640 - NPG 486 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Sir Kenelm Digby

by Sir Anthony van Dyck
oil on canvas, circa 1640
46 1/8 in. x 36 1/8 in. (1172 mm x 917 mm)
Purchased, 1877
Primary Collection
NPG 486

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Sitterback to top

  • Sir Kenelm Digby (1603-1665), Naval commander, diplomat and scientist. Sitter in 24 portraits.

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  • Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641), Painter. Artist associated with 1004 portraits, Sitter associated with 31 portraits.

This portraitback to top

A naval commander, diplomat and scientist, Digby was considered to be 'the most accomplished cavalier of his time', and was sent by Charles I to ask for the Pope's help in the Civil War. An early member of the Royal Society, he was renowned for his tall stories and for his 'sympathetic powder' which was said to cure wounds when applied to the weapon which had inflicted them. A friend of the French philosopher Descartes, his prolific writings include an attack on Sir Thomas Browne's Religio Medici. He is shown in this portrait wearing armour and holding the baton of military command.

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