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John Evelyn

2 of 13 portraits of John Evelyn

John Evelyn, by Robert Walker, 1648 - NPG 6179 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

John Evelyn

by Robert Walker
oil on canvas, 1648
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
Primary Collection
NPG 6179

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  • 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 130 portraits, Sitter in 3 portraits.

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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.

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