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Sir James Thornhill

2 of 14 portraits of Sir James Thornhill

Sir James Thornhill, by Sir James Thornhill, circa 1710-1725 - NPG 5339 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Sir James Thornhill

by Sir James Thornhill
oil on canvas, octagonal, circa 1710-1725
45 3/4 in. x 58 7/8 in. (1162 mm x 1495 mm)
Purchased, 1980
Primary Collection
NPG 5339


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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.

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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.

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