Henry Purcell(1659-1695), Composer
Sitter in 11 portraits
Purcell, the pre-eminent composer of the Restoration period and the father of modern music in England, is said to have written his first composition at the age of eleven in honour of Charles II's birthday. He became organist of Westminster Abbey in 1679, and of the Chapel Royal in 1682. Purcell composed religious anthems, secular songs, instrumental pieces, odes, music for plays and 'semi-operas', and the famous Dido and Aeneas, one of the first English operas, and the Fairy Queen. According to John Evelyn he was 'esteemed to be the best composer of any Englishman hitherto'.
More on Henry Purcell: Pepys and his Contemporaries book in our Shops
Watch a film clip on the sitter from the BBC Archive in the Media section below
View a wide collection of video content on our YouTube channel from past projects to our latest films.
Artist and sitter interviews
Get insights into creating portraiture from BP Portrait Award 2020 artists and their sitters.
Watch our film created to say ‘goodbye’ to the Gallery before we closed for our major transformation project.