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Thomas Chiffinch

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Thomas Chiffinch, attributed to Jacob Huysmans, circa 1660 - NPG 816 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Thomas Chiffinch

attributed to Jacob Huysmans
oil on canvas, circa 1660
44 1/2 in. x 36 3/4 in. (1130 mm x 933 mm)
Purchased, 1889
Primary Collection
NPG 816

On display in Room 7 at the National Portrait Gallery

Sitterback to top

  • Thomas Chiffinch (1600-1666), Keeper of the Privy Closet and the King's Jewels to Charles II. Sitter in 1 portrait.

Artistback to top

  • Jacob Huysmans (1633?-1696), Artist. Artist associated with 32 portraits.

This portraitback to top

A page to Charles I and a close confidant of Charles II, at the Restoration Chiffinch was appointed Keeper of the Privy Closet and of the King's Jewels. At Whitehall he was also charged with looking after the king's collection of Old Master paintings. Nonetheless, the unusual collection of attributes seen in this portrait may represent his own collections. Chiffinch is holding a piece of paper in his right hand which he rests on a classical bust. Scattered around the base of the bust are portrait miniatures and gold coins and in his left hand he holds a cameo of a woman's profile. The 'auricular' frame to this portrait has grotesque masks at the top and bottom which are set between dophins with open mouths which appear to engulf the corner ornament of the frame.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Smartify image discovery app
  • Piper, David, Catalogue of Seventeenth Century Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery, 1625-1714, 1963, p. 69
  • Ribeiro, Aileen, The Gallery of Fashion, 2000, p. 77
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 121
  • Simon, Jacob, The Art of the Picture Frame: Artists, Patrons and the Framing of Portraits in Britain, 1997 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 8 November 1996 - 9 February 1997), p. 53, 153 Read entry

    Carved and gilt oak, chamfered at the back, mason's mitre, the top and bottom of the frame extended by 1 7⁄ 8 inches at both corners, the sides by 2 3⁄ 8 inches at the bottom, the back frame replaced, the tips of the mask at bottom centre replaced. 3 3⁄ 4 to 4 3⁄ 4 inches wide, 5 3⁄ 4 inches at top cresting.

    A superb auricular frame of individual character with grotesque masks at top and bottom set between dolphins with open mouths seemingly engulfing the corner ornament of the frame. It was acquired by the National Portrait Gallery in the mid-1970s and slightly enlarged on all four sides to fit the picture. The marriage of frame and picture may not always seem appropriate, and is always a matter of opinion, but in this case the sense of movement in the frame seems undeniably to suit the dynamic nature of this portrait of the collector and connoisseur, Thomas Chiffinch.

    The basic pattern of the sides of the Chiffinch frame links it to a group of auricular frames of the 1630s and 1640s, characterised by a mask of a grimacing man at the top of the frame. Examples of the type can be found on the work of Cornelius Johnson, for example, his 2nd Lord Herbert, 1635 (Powis Castle), Anne Peyton, 1636 (with Lane Fine Art, 1994) and the Duke of Lauderdale, 1642-3 (Ham House), and on George Geldorp's full-length Sir Arthur Ingram, c.1638-9 (Temple Newsam House). Another full-length of the type, Peter Nason's Oliver St John, 1651 (National Portrait Gallery, on loan to the British Museum), is a recent marriage of picture and frame.

Events of 1660back to top

Current affairs

The Convention Parliament and Lords proclaim Charles II king after he issues a declaration from Breda offering an indemnity to those who had committed crimes against the crown during the civil war and Interregnum. Charles lands at Dover from The Hague on 25th May to great pomp and ceremony.

Art and science

Diarist Samuel Pepys starts his diary on 1st January, writing in shorthand. The diary became a unique social document, opening with a brief summary of his domestic situation and the political background.
Dutch portrait painter, Peter Lely, is appointed principal painter to Charles II.
Official foundation of the Royal Society.

International

The Anglo-Spanish War, begun by Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell, formally ends after the restoration of the British monarchy and peace is made with Philip IV of Spain.

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