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Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue

King George I (1660-1727), Reigned 1714-27

Before 1714
Known in his early years as George Lewis, Duke of Hanover, and after 1699 as Elector of Hanover, portraits up to 1714 unless otherwise stated, depict him three-quarter length in armour or cuirass and are in the Brunswick collection, formerly at Schloss Blankenburg. He was painted by Nicolaes Maes [1] probably in the Low Countries on his way to England.
Two oils by Kneller seen in the 'Brunswick Art Treasures', Victoria and Albert Museum, 1952, are associated with the years between his arrival about December 1680 and his sudden departure, and marriage, 21 November 1682. Of these, the portrait facing to the right, engraved by R. Tompson (J. Chaloner Smith, British Mezzotinto Portraits, 1878-83, 17), is presumably the source of the mezzotint mentioned by Vertue in D'Agar's sale: 'a metzotint hd of K. George half length after Sr. G. Knellers painted when he was in England. formerly. the print tho. meanly done. yet retains a likeness of his picture lately done when King by the same painter. a great proof of the trueness of likeness. that he constantly hit'. [2] The identity of the other Kneller portrait has been questioned, [3] and it may represent one of George's younger brothers. A half length by Seaghley, [4] 1702, engraved by B. Lens, seems related to two other close but probably distinct types, one by the Nuremberg artist J. L. Hirschmann ('Hirseman'), now known only by John Smith's engraving (J. Chaloner Smith, British Mezzotinto Portraits, 1878-83, 99, as Elector), and the other, formerly NPG 1366, bought from Sir Frederick Milner, Bart, as the 3rd Earl of Peterborough and sold, 1920, to the Ministry of Works. Two further portraits, near-identical heads, one said to be of c.1699, are also close to the above and to the engraving by B. Picart published by Renard of Amsterdam. Although dated after the coronation the engraving is surely based on a portrait of the Hanoverian period, the face mask being not far from the portrait by Quiter, 1705 (H. H. Quiter?) at Blenheim. When exhibited in the Second Exhibition of National Portraits, South Kensington, 1867 (194), it was stated to have H. de Quiltery, ft. 1705 written on the back but this is not now visible. It was probably painted for Marlborough who was in Hanover that year.
A portrait of a boy as Cupid wearing the lesser George, said to have been painted by the sitter's mother the Electress Sophia, and now attributed to G. Honthorst, [5] is wrongly named. The child appears to be about three or four years old and must be William III (1650-1702) who became a knight of the Garter in 1653, the only child c.1650-1714 to have had the order so young.

1714-27 Kneller and Studio
The bulk of Kneller's output must have originated with the accession, but closer dating is not available. A few examples of a profile are found, as in NPG 4223; the state portrait was three-quarter face. Examples are numerous. NPG 544 is particularly hard, but no clearly pre-eminent version emerges. The types presumably relate to two sittings or series of sittings and the variety or derivatives from the three-quarter face would seem to confirm a statement in the Houghton manuscript of 1750 that this was the only 'Picture' for which he 'ever sat in England'. [6] Vertue, however, records that 'King William and Queen Mary also the late Queen ... & the Present King were drawn by him [Kneller] several times ...'. [7]
Judging from his usual practice, particularly with a reluctant sitter or one pressed for time, Kneller may well have taken drawings from life, the oils being worked up in the studio with the help of costume and models. A three-quarter face engraved by Vertue as a [b] Solo Originali and published with the date of the coronation might indeed represent some such working sketch now lost; another, formerly doubted by Oppé, is at Windsor. [8] Whole length oils, standing in robes of state, with the crown on a table on the left, are at Windsor Castle (Sir Oliver Millar, The Tudor Stuart and Early Georgian Pictures in the collection of Her Majesty The Queen, 1963, 360), at Houghton, the Scottish NPG (1059), the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, Aske Hall and Gripsholm Castle, Sweden. A good reversed version is at Burghley [9] (as by Dahl) and another, similar, with a record of payment to an unnamed artist in 1715 is at County Hall, Northampton. Another, whole length with the same pose of head, formerly in the Guildhall, London (destroyed in 1940), [10] was commissioned by the corporation and received in 1716. It shows George wearing the crown as in Faber junior's engraving. In a further variant, still with the same head, the King is seated in Garter robes; examples are NPG 544 and the better versions at Hampton Court (Sir Oliver Millar, The Tudor Stuart and Early Georgian Pictures in the collection of Her Majesty The Queen, 1963, 375) and at Floors Castle, Duke of Roxburghe collection.
A head and shoulders engraving by P. Van Gunst shows him in the same pose but in cuirass with Garter ribbon. No corresponding oil is known and no artist's name is given. The print is reversed and the ribbon consequently over the wrong shoulder. The three-quarter face also appears in a whole length equestrian type in the Earl of Verulam's collection at Gorhambury. [11] An equestrian portrait, 53 x 42 in., was recorded at Houghton in 1736 and again in 1752 with the information that 'The Figure is by Sir Godfrey, which he took from the King at Guildford Horse-Race. The Horse is new painted by Wootton'. [12] A sketch which evidently went to Russia with the other Houghton pictures was in the Gatchina Palace. [13] The addenda to the 1736 catalogue also refer to a whole length. [14]

1714-27 Other artists
Among other works, there is an equestrian portrait of 1726 by John Vanderbank (Sir Oliver Millar, The Tudor Stuart and Early Georgian Pictures in the collection of Her Majesty The Queen, 1963, 499, pl.168) based on Vandyck's portrait of Charles I in the National Gallery, [15] and another, 50 x 40 in., sometimes ascribed to Wootton shows the sitter riding to the right, with mounted troops in the background; an example is at Aynho. Further portraits, apparently independent, include a whole length in coronation robes by Enoch Seeman, 1717, Middle Temple, receipt dated 22 November that year, close to the mezzotint by Faber junior of 1722 after 'D. Stevens'. Another by Fountain (Sir Oliver Millar, The Tudor Stuart and Early Georgian Pictures in the collection of Her Majesty The Queen, 1963, 498, pl.189), engraved by Monguibert is also close; a head is owned by the City of Bath. The face mask of the seated three-quarter length given to Lord Chancellor Hardwicke in 1730 [16] is also near to Fountain who held the post of 'Hofcontrefaitre' to George I. The King also appears in the decorations of the Painted Hall at Greenwich, 1708-24, now partly ascribed to Sir James Thornhill's assistant Dietrich André. [17] Two studies for this are in the British Museum.

SCULPTURE
The only work known to be from life is by David Le Marchand (1674-1726), the Dieppe ivory carver who spent most of his life in England. [18] An ivory head incised ad. Viv. was acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1931 and a medallion, [19] with a version at Brunswick, is in the British Museum. Vertue's reference that 'the King did not actually set' [20] almost certainly applies not only to Rysbrack's bust but also to Burchard, Delvaux and Van Nost whose statues are recorded by Gunnis. [21] A wax profile medallion, [22] probably by Gosset and another in which the sitter looks to the left, acquired 1931, as well as a bronze equestrian statuette with the rider being crowned with laurels, are in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

1) 21 x 17 ½ in., signed; exhibited 'Kings & Queens', RA, 1953 (221), souvenir catalogue pl.58.
2) G. Vertue, Vertue Note Books (edited by The Earl of Ilchester), Walpole Society, I, p 126.
3) Exhibited 'Sir Godfrey Kneller', NPG, 1971, catalogue p 51, reproduced.
4) Reproduced, Macaulay's History of England, ed. C. H. Firth, 1914, V, p 2217.
5) At Sotheby's, 27 November 1968, lot 72; exhibited ‘Manchester Art Treasures', 1857 (244).
6) R. Robertson (?), A Description of the Pictures at Houghton Hall, 1750, presented to the NPG in 1888 by G. Leveson Gower; the Houghton picture reproduced Country Life, XXII, 1907, p 132.
7) G. Vertue, Vertue Note Books (edited by The Earl of Ilchester), Walpole Society, II, p 121.
8) A. P. Oppé, English Drawings ... at Windsor Castle, 1950 (405); exhibited 'Sir Godfrey Kneller', NPG, 1971 (65).
9) Their catalogue, 1954 (360).
10) For some years in the frame of their George II.
11) Exhibited 'Kings & Queens', RA, 1953 (222).
12) Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford, A Catalogue of the Right Honble Sir Robert Walpole's Collection of Pictures, 1736, MS, The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, f.9; Aedes Walpolianae, 2nd edition, 1752, p 45 (see Orford, 1st Earl, All Known Portraits).
13) Serge Brust, 'Portraits by Kneller in Russia', Burlington Magazine, CVII, 1965, p 426, pl.47.
14) Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford, A Catalogue of the Right Honble Sir Robert Walpole's Collection of Pictures, 1736, MS, The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, pp 35-36.
15) Connoisseur, XCV, 1935, reproduced p 257. C. H. Collins Baker, Catalogue of the Principal Pictures in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle, 1937, p 298.
16) Bought by Warwickshire County Council, Wimpole sale 1950, now in County Hall.
17) E. Croft-Murray, Decorative Painting in England 1537-1837, 1962, p 263; L. Binyon, Catalogue of drawings by British artists ... in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum, IV, 1907, p 182 (23, 24).
18) Presumably David Le Marchant, who died in The French Hospital, London, 17 March 1726 (admitted 3 February 1726 as David Marchand). J. Kerslake, 'Sculptor and Patron? Two Portraits by Highmore', Apollo, XCV, January 1972, p 29, and note 32, citing hospital archives.
19) O. M. Dalton, Catalogue of the Ivory Carvings ... in the British Museum, 1909, p 152 (456), pl.ci.
20) G. Vertue, Vertue Note Books (edited by The Earl of Ilchester), Walpole Society, III, p 56; see NPG 4156.
21) R. Gunnis, Dictionary of British Sculptors 1660-1851, 1953, pp 70, 126, 285.
22) Catalogue of English Porcelain ... collected by Charles Schreiber ... presented to the Museum in 1884, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1930, II, (623), p 178.


This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Kerslake, Early Georgian Portraits, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1977, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.