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
oil on canvas, 1717
36 in. x 28 in. (914 mm x 711 mm)
Given by the Art Fund, 1945
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Sitterback to top
- Jacob Tonson I (1655-1736), Publisher; Secretary of the Kit-cat Club. Sitter in 5 portraits, Artist associated with 6 portraits.
Artistback to top
- Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt (1646-1723), Portrait painter. Artist associated with 1681 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.
Related worksback to top
Linked publicationsback to top
- Cooper, John, A Guide to the National Portrait Gallery, 2009, p. 28
- Ingamells, John, Later Stuart Portraits 1685-1714, 2009, p. 292
- Piper, David, The English Face, 1992, p. 111
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 619
- Schama, Simon, The Face of Britain: The Nation Through its Portraits, 2015-09-15, p. 78
- Simon, Jacob, The Art of the Picture Frame: Artists, Patrons and the Framing of Portraits in Britain, 1997 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 8 November 1996 - 9 February 1997), p. 124
Portrait setback to top
Events of 1717back to top
Current affairsCount Carl Gyllenborg, the Swedish ambassador, is arrested in London and imprisoned over a plot to assist the Pretender James Stuart.Bangorian controversy; a theological argument within the Church of England is initiated by the posthumous publication of a treatise written by George Hicks, Bishop of Thetford.First Freemason's Grand Lodge is founded in London.
Art and scienceActor-manager Colley Cibber stages The Loves of Mars and Venus at the Drury Lane Theatre; the first ballet to be performed in Britain. Composer George Frideric Handel's Water Music is performed for the first time on a barge on the River Thames for George I.
InternationalJohn Law establishes the Mississippi Company to develop trade in Louisiania for France. His scheme results in the 'Mississippi Bubble'.Triple Alliance formed between England, France and the Dutch Republic to uphold the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht and maintain peace in Europe.Competition between British and Dutch in factories on the coast of Mauritania results in the first 'gum war' over the lucrative trade in gum arabic.
See this portrait
On display in Room 9 at the National Portrait Gallery