2 of 13 portraits of John Evelyn
by Robert Walker
oil on canvas, 1648-circa 1656
34 5/8 in. x 25 1/4 in. (879 mm x 641 mm)
Purchased with help from the Art Fund, the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Dame Helen Gardner Bequest, 1992
Click on the links below to find out more:
Sitterback to top
- John Evelyn (1620-1706), Diarist and virtuoso. Sitter associated with 13 portraits, Artist associated with 2 portraits.
Artistback to top
- Robert Walker (1599-1658), Painter. Artist associated with 137 portraits, Sitter in 3 portraits.
This portraitback to top
Evelyn records in his Diary that he sat to Walker on 1 July 1648, and that his portrait was intended to accompany a treatise on marriage which he had written for his young wife Mary Browne. The portrait originally showed him holding a miniature or medal of his wife. The skull was substituted some years later, with the Greek motto (top) signifying: 'Repentance is the beginning of Wisdom', and the quotation in Latin from Seneca on the importance of preparing for death.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Audio Guide
- Ingamells, John, Later Stuart Portraits 1685-1714, 2009, p. 87
- Jordanova, Ludmilla, Defining Features: Scientific and Medical Portraits 1660-2000, 2000 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 14 April to 17 September 2000), p. 12
- Ollard, Richard, Character Sketches: Samuel Pepys and His Circle, 2000, p. 40
- Ollard, Richard, Pepys and his Contemporaries, 2015, p. 64
- Saumarez Smith, Charles, The National Portrait Gallery: An Illustrated Guide, 2000, p. 61
- Saumarez Smith, Charles, The National Portrait Gallery, 1997, p. 61
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 211
- Various contributors, National Portrait Gallery: A Portrait of Britain, 2014, p. 84
Subjects & Themesback to top
Events of 1648back to top
Current affairsResurgence of civil war largely ends at the battle of Preston, won by Parliamentarians under Oliver Cromwell's command.
Parliamentary General Henry Ireton's Army Remonstrance demands the king is tried an enemy of the state. Ireton also instigates a coups d'état, Pride's Purge, ridding Parliament of MPs supporting negotiations with Charles.
Art and scienceJohn Wilkins, Bishop of Chester, publishes Mathematical Magick, the first work in English on the fundamental principles of mechanics, conceived in the form of a practical manual.
InternationalA series of European treaties, negotiated since 1644, results in the Peace of Westphalia and ends the German phase of the Thirty Years' War, and war between the Dutch and Spain in the Eighty Years' War. Delegations are sent from around Europe, Henri II d'Orleans leads the French delegation.
See this portrait
On display in Room 16 at the National Portrait Gallery
Exhibitions and displays
- Life, Death and Memory
Until 16 March 2018
- BSL Gallery Tour: Life, Death and Memory
29 June, 19:30