Sir John Vanbrugh
1 of 11 portraits of Sir John Vanbrugh
Sir John Vanbrugh
by Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt
oil on canvas, circa 1705
36 in. x 28 in. (914 mm x 711 mm)
Given by the Art Fund, 1945
Click on the links below to find out more:
Artistback to top
- Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt (1646-1723), Portrait painter. Artist associated with 1678 portraits, Sitter associated with 30 portraits.
This portraitback to top
Both Kneller and the architect and dramatist John Vanbrugh were members of the Kit-cat Club, a club established by the publisher Jacob Tonson, which originally met in a tavern near Temple Bar kept by Christopher Cat and from 1703 onwards sometimes met in Tonson's house at Barn Elms near Putney. It was essentially a drinking club but, as often happens in clubs, attracted a group of like-minded individuals united by politics (they were almost all Whigs) and by intellectual and artistic interests. So this portrait is not only a record of a great architect, painted when he was at the height of his career, presumably soon after he received the commission to design Blenheim Palace, but also a record of friendship between the painter and the sitter.
Related worksback to top
Linked publicationsback to top
- Ingamells, John, Later Stuart Portraits 1685-1714, 2009, p. 304
- Saumarez Smith, Charles, The National Portrait Gallery: An Illustrated Guide, 2000, p. 81
- Saumarez Smith, Charles, The National Portrait Gallery, 1997, p. 81
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 629
- Schama, Simon, The Face of Britain: The Nation Through its Portraits, 2015-09-15, p. 78
Portrait setback to top
Events of 1705back to top
Current affairsThe Act for the Naturalization of Princess Sophia, Electress of Hanover, following the Act of Settlement, 1701, ensures Sophia and her descendants, if Protestant, would succeed to the throne. The passing of the Alien Act in Parliament deems any Scot in England to be a foreign subject.
Art and scienceAstronomer, Edmond Halley, publishes his celebrated work Synopsis astronomia cometicae. Architect, Sir John Vanbrugh is appointed to design Blenheim Palace, a gift from the queen to John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, in recognition of his victory against the French at Blindheim, Bavaria.
InternationalCharles Mordaunt, Earl of Peterborough having recently been appointed admiral alongside Sir Cloudesley Shovell, sails from England to fight a successful, though controversial campaign in Spain during the War of the Spanish Succession.
See this portrait
On display in Room 9 at the National Portrait Gallery