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Jacob Tonson I

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

Jacob Tonson I, by Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt, 1717 - NPG 3230 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Jacob Tonson I

by Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt
oil on canvas, 1717
36 in. x 28 in. (914 mm x 711 mm)
Given by The Art Fund, 1945
Primary Collection
NPG 3230

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Sitterback to top

  • Jacob Tonson I (1655-1736), Publisher; Secretary of the Kit-cat Club. Sitter associated with 5 portraits, Artist associated with 6 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt (1646-1723), Portrait painter. Artist associated with 1674 portraits, Sitter associated with 30 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Jacob Tonson's publishing business in London was relatively obscure until he undertook the publication of Milton's Paradise Lost. He then went on to publish both Dryden and Pope. He was also secretary to the Kit-cat Club, the dining club of prominent Whigs which occasionally met at his house near Putney in south-west London. The members of the club had their portraits painted by Kneller and presented to Tonson over a period of more than twenty years from about 1697. In this portrait Tonson is depicted holding a copy of Paradise Lost, the rights to which he acquired and thereby amassed a fortune. The frame is one of a set of forty-one identical architectural or 'architrave' frames in the Kent style made for the Kit-cat portraits by Gerrard Howard, the King's framemaker, in 1733 at a cost of two guineas each.

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