Sir John Vanbrugh

1 portrait on display in Room 9 at the National Portrait Gallery

Sir John Vanbrugh, by Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt, circa 1704-1710 - NPG 3231 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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
Primary Collection
NPG 3231

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  • Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt (1646-1723), Portrait painter. Artist associated with 1678 portraits, Sitter associated with 30 portraits.

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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.

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