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John Somers, Baron Somers

17 of 21 portraits on display in Room 9 at the National Portrait Gallery

John Somers, Baron Somers, by Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt, before 1711 - NPG 3223 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

John Somers, Baron Somers

by Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt
oil on canvas, before 1711
35 3/4 in. x 27 3/4 in. (908 mm x 705 mm)
Given by The Art Fund, 1945
Primary Collection
NPG 3223


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Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt (1646-1723), Portrait painter. Artist associated with 1667 portraits, Sitter associated with 30 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Having entered the Middle Temple in 1669, Somers won a great legal reputation and was junior counsel for the Seven Bishops in 1688. He also helped to draft the Bill of Rights. As Solicitor-General and Attorney-General he created a new and important tradition by his temperate prosecution of the enemies of the new regime of William and Mary. As a leader of the Whigs he organised the Junto, a close body of ministers which in some ways anticipated the Cabinet. He became a Baron and Lord Chancellor in 1697 and was finally ousted from office when the Tories came to power in 1710. Described by Johnathan Swift as possessing 'all excellent qualifications, except virtue', in this portrait Somers holds a first edition of an octavo edition of Spenser's Fairie Queene published in 1715 and dedicated to him.

Related worksback to top

  • NPG D19842: John Somers, Baron Somers (source portrait)
  • NPG D33118: John Somers, Baron Somers (source portrait)
  • NPG D41809: John Somers, Baron Somers (source portrait)

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