Sir James Thornhill
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
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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.
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.
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Subjects & Themesback to top
Events of 1715back to top
Current affairsHenry 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 scienceArtist 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.
InternationalLouis 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.