- Extended Catalogue Entry
by Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt
oil on canvas, circa 1690
92 in. x 56 1/4 in. (2337 mm x 1429 mm)
Artistback to top
- Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt (1646-1723), Portrait painter. Artist associated with 1684 portraits, Sitter associated with 30 portraits.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Cannadine, Sir David (Introduction); Cooper, Tarnya; Stewart, Louise; MacGibbon, Rab; Cox, Paul; Peltz, Lucy; Moorhouse, Paul; Broadley, Rosie; Jascot-Gill, Sabina ., Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portraits, 2018 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, USA, 7 October 2018 -3 February 2019. Bendigo Art Gallery, Australia, 16 March - 14 July 2019.), p. 137 Read entry
The younger sister of Mary II, Anne had a personal life dominated by the tragic miscarriage, stillbirth and death of seventeen children, but she was sustained by a happy relationship with her husband, Prince George of Denmark, and by close female friendships, notably with Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough. After the death from smallpox of her final surviving child, William, Duke of Gloucester, shortly after his eleventh birthday, King William III, Anne's brother-in-law, had Parliament pass the Act of Settlement, ensuring that the throne would pass only to Protestant heirs, thus enabling the Hanoverian succession.
Anne succeeded to the throne on the death of William in 1702 and, although constantly battling ill health, proved a successful monarch. Her reign was notable for, among other things, military successes in the War of the Spanish Succession, the Act of Union with Scotland in 1707, and the peace negotiated in Europe through the Treaty of Utrecht.
The court artist Sir Godfrey Kneller was Principal Painter to four monarchs: William and Mary Anne and George I. Like most of the prominent painters in seventeenth-century Britain, he was an immigrant: born in Germany, he was trained in the Netherlands and travelled to Italy, working there and in Germany before settling in England in 1676. His output, much of it dominated by the work of studio assistants, was enormous. His best portraits, however, display great virtuosity in handling paint and a kind of effortless elegance and magnificence that kept him in favour at court.
- Ingamells, John, Later Stuart Portraits 1685-1714, 2009, p. 6
- Piper, David, Catalogue of Seventeenth Century Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery, 1625-1714, 1963, p. 7
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 14
- Toksvig, Sandi; Dyer, Richard, Gay Icons, 2009 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 2 July - 18 October 2009), p. 15
Subjects & Themesback to top
Events of 1690back to top
Current affairsWilliam III, forced to leave England to fight in Ireland, empowers Mary II, through the Regency Act, to exercise authority in his absence. William, however, unwilling to rest power solely with Mary, appoints a council of nine statesmen directly answerable to the absent king.
Art and sciencePhilosopher, John Locke, publishes An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding and Treatises on Government, in which he sets out his notion that human understanding is derived from experience.
Naturalist, John Ray, publishes Synopsis methodica stirpium Britannicarum. It became the most consulted book for the classification of British plants.
InternationalWilliam III lands in Ireland with an allied force of Protestant fighters from European states to fight French and Irish troops under James II. William's victory at the Battle of the Boyne forces James to flee into permanent exile.
French defeat the English at the naval battle of Beachy Head.
Recommended Exhibitions & displays
- Everyday Icons: Collecting Popular Portraits
From 7 September