Sir John Vanbrugh
5 of 21 portraits on display in Room 9 at the National Portrait Gallery
Sir John Vanbrugh
by Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt
oil on canvas, circa 1704-1710
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 1681 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 1704back to top
Current affairsLord High Treasurer, Sidney Godolphin, with considerable financial acumen,begins to shift the country's dependence from short-term borrowing to long-term. His management of the country's revenue allowed the government to fund John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough's successful fight against France.
Art and scienceMathematical scientist, Isaac Newton, recently made President of the Royal Society, presents his second major publication, Opticks, to the Society. Daniel Defoe launches The Review, a periodical dedicated to news, specifically the war in Europe; it is published thrice weekly.
InternationalBattle of Blenheim marks a turning point in the War of the Spanish Succession, as allied armies under John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, and Princes Eugene of Savoy and Lewis of Baden defeat the Franco-Bavarian army on the River Danube. Admiral George Rooke captures Gibraltar.
See this portrait
On display in Room 9 at the National Portrait Gallery