William Stukeley

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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William Stukeley

by Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt
pencil, ink and wash, 4 February 1721
11 3/8 in. x 7 3/4 in. (289 mm x 197 mm)
Given by Sir (James) Alan Noel Barlow, 2nd Bt, 1962
Primary Collection
NPG 4266

Sitterback to top

  • William Stukeley (1687-1765), Antiquary and physician. Sitter in 8 portraits, Artist or producer associated with 2 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt (1646-1723), Portrait painter. Artist or producer associated with 1689 portraits, Sitter associated with 30 portraits.

This portraitback to top

This drawing is an unusual example by Sir Godfrey Kneller, who became the leading court painter after Sir Peter Lely's death in 1680. Few of Kneller's drawings survive and most are preparatory studies for paintings whereas this drawing was intended as a finished portrait. It is probable that the sitter, the anatomist and antiquarian William Stukeley, chose the composition as this image resembles other drawings of him. The profile pose is reminiscent of ancient coins and medals, evoking Stukeley's interest in antiquities. Stukeley wrote in his diary, 'Sr. Godf[rey] Kn[eller] sketched my profile on paper'. More detailed information on this portrait is available in a National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue, John Kerslake's Early Georgian Portraits (1977, out of print).

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Kerslake, John, Early Georgian Portraits, 1977, p. 270
  • Rogers, Malcolm, Master Drawings from the National Portrait Gallery, 1993 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 5 August to 23 October 1994), p. 35
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 597

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 1721back to top

Current affairs

Robert Walpole becomes the first British Prime Minister and holds the post for an unrivalled tenure of twenty-one years.
Former Chancellor of the Exchequer John Aislabie is imprisoned in the Tower of London and found guilty of corruption for his part in the collapse of the South Sea Company.

Art and science

Artist William Hogarth produces his first satirical engraving The South Sea Scheme in response to the South Sea Bubble of the previous year.
Writer and diplomat's wife, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu introduces the smallpox inoculation to Britain. The Princess of Wales is persuaded to test the treatment and the procedure becomes fashionable.


Johann Sebastian Bach writes the six Brandenburg Concertos for his employer at the court of Köthen.
Montesquieu completes his best-selling Lettres Persanes (Persian Letters); a critical view of contemporary western politics, religion and society.
Treaty of Nystad in which Sweden cedes Estonia to Russia with most of Latvia. Russia becomes the dominant regional power and Peter the Great has himself proclaimed 'Emperor of all Russia'.

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