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Kit-Cat Club


45 People in sitter grouping:

Supposedly named after a mutton pie, served by Christopher Cat (a London pastry chef and friend of Jacob Tonson), it is difficult to precisely date the origin of the Kit-Cat club. It is clear that by the 1680s Tonson had begun to arrange small meetings in London, catered for by Cat, but it was probably not until the mid 1690s that the group became the large, gentrified Whig club it is best known as, famous for its drinking customs and political sponsorship. No membership lists exist for the club, but its members varied from the aristocratic elite to army officers and diplomats. The closest approximation of a membership list is perhaps the set of 48 portraits commissioned by Tonson and painted by Sir Godfrey Kneller that now hang here at the National Portrait Gallery and at Beningbrough Hall. The portraits were originally displayed in a purpose-built gallery at Tonson's Barn Elms House (which also became the headquarters for the group) and were gifted to him for his work as the club secretary. The group was succeeded by the Whig Hanover Club by 1720, a group which was solely dedicated to parliamentary matters.

Joseph Addison

Joseph Addison

1672-1719
Essayist and poet
Sitter in 24 portraits
William Congreve

William Congreve

1670-1729
Dramatist
Sitter in 18 portraits
John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough

John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough

1650-1722
Soldier and statesman
Sitter associated with 85 portraits
Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt

Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt

1646-1723
Portrait painter
Sitter associated with 30 portraits | Artist associated with 1684 portraits
Sir Richard Steele

Sir Richard Steele

1672-1729
Dramatist and essayist
Sitter in 33 portraits
Sir John Vanbrugh

Sir John Vanbrugh

1664-1726
Architect and dramatist
Sitter in 11 portraits
John Vaughan, 3rd Earl of Carbery

John Vaughan, 3rd Earl of Carbery

1639-1713
Governor of Jamaica and courtier
Sitter in 7 portraits
Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond and Lennox

Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond and Lennox

1672-1723
Courtier; son of King Charles II
Sitter in 10 portraits
Richard Temple, 1st Viscount Cobham

Richard Temple, 1st Viscount Cobham

1675-1749
Field Marshal and politician; MP for Buckinghamshire
Sitter in 8 portraits
Charles Dartiquenave

Charles Dartiquenave

1664?-1737
Epicure and wit
Sitter in 7 portraits
John Dormer

John Dormer

1669-1719
Country gentleman; landowner
Sitter in 2 portraits
Edmund Dunch

Edmund Dunch

1657-1719
Whig politician and Master of the Royal Household to Queen Anne
Sitter in 4 portraits