Sir James Thornhill

1 portrait

Sir James Thornhill, by Sir James Thornhill, circa 1715-1720 - NPG 5339 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Sir James Thornhill

by Sir James Thornhill
oil on canvas, octagonal, circa 1715-1720
45 1/4 in. x 58 7/8 in. (1148 mm x 1495 mm) overall
Purchased, 1980
Primary Collection
NPG 5339


Click on the links below to find out more:

Share this

Sitterback to top

  • Sir James Thornhill (1675 or 1676-1734), Father-in-law of William Hogarth, decorative painter and politician; MP for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis. Sitter associated with 14 portraits, Artist associated with 23 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Sir James Thornhill (1675 or 1676-1734), Father-in-law of William Hogarth, decorative painter and politician; MP for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis. Artist associated with 23 portraits, Sitter associated with 14 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Unlike many artists of the day, Thornhill did not make his living from portraits. He was a decorative painter specialising in complex historical and mythological murals for noble and public buildings. This painting is an unusual rhetorical self-portrait. It shows a beautiful female figure - an Allegory of Painting - working on a portrait of the artist. By suggesting that he was made, or inspired, by this personification of Art, Thornhill was making claims both for his own superiority as an artist and for the international and academic potential of British art.

Linked publicationsback to top

Events of 1715back to top

Current affairs

Henry St John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke flees to Paris - following his part in secret negotiations around the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 - where he becomes foreign minister to the Pretender, James Stuart. First Jacobite Rebellion begins in Scotland against the rule of George I. The Pretender arrives from France. Total solar eclipse is seen across southern England; the last total eclipse visible in London for almost 900 years.

Art and science

Artist Jonathan Richardson publishes The Theory of Painting, credited with being the first significant work of artistic theory in English. Poet Alexander Pope begins his acclaimed translation of Homer's Illiad Architect Colen Campbell creates interest in the Palladian style in Britain with the publication of his Vitruvius Britannicus.

International

Louis XIV of France dies after seventy-two years on the throne. He is succeeded by his five-year old grandson, Louis XV. British build a permanent factory in Canton, China.

Tell us moreback to top

Can you tell us more about this portrait? Spotted an error, information that is missing (a sitter’s life dates, occupation or family relationships, or a date of portrait for example) or do you know anything that we don't know? If you have information to share please complete the form below.

If you require information from us, please use our Archive enquiry service. If you wish to license this image, please use our Rights and Images service.

Please note that we cannot provide valuations.

We digitise over 8,000 portraits a year and we cannot guarantee being able to digitise images that are not already scheduled.

What can you tell us?close

There are occasions when we are unsure of the identity of a sitter or artist, their life dates, occupation or have not recorded their family relationships. Sometimes we have not recorded the date of a portrait. Do you have specialist knowledge or a particular interest about any aspect of the portrait or sitter or artist that you can share with us? We would welcome any information that adds to and enhances our information and understanding about a particular portrait, sitter or artist.

Citationclose

How do you know this? Please could you let us know your source of information.

* Permission to publish (Privacy information)
Privacy Informationclose

The National Portrait Gallery will NOT use your information to contact you or store for any other purpose than to investigate or display your contribution. By ticking permission to publish you are indicating your agreement for your contribution to be shown on this collection item page. Please note your email address will not be displayed on the page nor will it be used for any marketing material or promotion of any kind.

Please ensure your comments are relevant and appropriate. Your contributions must be polite and with no intention of causing trouble. All contributions are moderated.

Your nameclose

If you tick permission to publish your name will appear above your contribution on our website.

Your Emailclose

Contributions are moderated. We'll need your email address so that we can follow up on the information provided and contact you to let you know when your contribution has been published.