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Bulstrode Whitelocke

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Bulstrode Whitelocke

by Unknown artist
oil on canvas, 1634
30 in. x 25 in. (762 mm x 635 mm)
Purchased, 1966
Primary Collection
NPG 4499

Sitterback to top

  • Bulstrode Whitelocke (1605-1675), Diplomat, lawyer and politician; MP for Stafford, Great Marlow, Buckinghamshire, Oxford and Bedford. Sitter in 8 portraits.

Artistback to top

This portraitback to top

Whitelocke holds a paper inscribed in Latin fac quod vis pati (do as you would be done by).The motto (top left), Quodcunque evenerit optimum (whatever happens is best) from Epictetus, was adopted by him when trying to reconcile himself to the insanity of his first wife (which began on the first night of their marriage). She died in the year this portrait was painted.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Cooper, John, Visitor's Guide, 2000, p. 122
  • John Cooper, National Portrait Gallery Visitor's Guide, 2006, p. 122 Read entry

    This portrait of the Parliamentarian and writer was framed soon after acquisition in 1966 in a carved silver-gilt frame. It was reframed in 1983 in this back-and-gold appliqué frame with gilt carved foliage ornament applied to a flat ebonised black frame – a style popular in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.

  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 659
  • 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. 57, 152 Read entry

    Pine painted black, mitred and keyed, the keys renewed, with applied gilt carving which has been renewed at the bottom from the left corner to the centre and in some other small areas, the outer convex moulding gilt but apparently originally painted black. The frame slightly reduced in size by Riccardo Giaccherini when acquired in 1983. 3 3⁄ 8 inches wide.

    This portrait of the Parliamentarian and writer, Bulstrode Whitelocke, framed soon after acquisition in 1966 in a carved silver gilt reverse section panel frame, was subsequently reframed in 1983 in this black-and-gold appliqué frame with gilt carved foliage ornament applied to a flat ebonised back frame, a style popular in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. The central motif and the use of flat gilt fillets to contain the running foliage carving are unusual features and may indicate an eighteenth-century date for this frame.

  • Strutt, Sally, A history of the Culden Faw Estate : Culham, Hambleden and Fawley, past to present, 2013, p. 68

Subjects & Themesback to top

Events of 1634back to top

Current affairs

Four men-of-war ships are launched, the result of Charles I's desire for naval expansion. In an attempt to keep up with the increasing cost of maritime security, Attorney-General William Noye, suggests a revival of ship money, and writs are issued, initially, to ports only.

Art and science

The kings performs in Coelum Brittanicum, a masque by poet Thomas Carew, with designs by Inigo Jones. The play, which fundamentally celebrates monarchical power, is widely considered to be the best of its era.
Apothecary, Thomas Johnson publishes, Mercurius Botanicus, which includes a catalogue of indigenous British plants.


Albrecht Wallenstein, Duke of Friedland, supreme commander of the armies of the Habsburg Monarchy during the Thirty Years' War, is convicted of high treason and subsequently assassinated by senior officers in his force, including Scottish Colonel Walter Leslie, who may have been assigned directly by Emperor Ferdinand II.

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