Edward Collier

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Edward Collier

by Edward Collier
oil on canvas, 1683
17 1/2 in. x 20 3/4 in. (444 mm x 528 mm)
Purchased, 1989
Primary Collection
NPG 6069

Sitterback to top

  • Edward Collier (circa 1642-1708), Painter. Sitter in 1 portrait, Artist or producer of 1 portrait.

Artistback to top

  • Edward Collier (circa 1642-1708), Painter. Artist or producer of 1 portrait, Sitter in 1 portrait.

This portraitback to top

This self-portrait shows him at work in his studio, surrounded by books, drawings, plaster casts and a skull, a common symbol of death. It both advertises his skills and – unlike the self-portraits of most of his contemporaries in England – draws attention to the practicalities involved in making paintings.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Rideal, Liz, Insights: Self-portraits, 2005, p. 15 Read entry

    This delightful small oil depicts Edward Collier alone in his studio, sporting an informal silken gown. He came to England in 1693, specialising in covetable still-life trompe l’œil paintings. Here he invites us to visit his realm and view his collection of props: a skull, a chest, drawings, sculpture and books, items that he would have recycled in his works. Objects such as these remind us of the transience of life, and are familiar symbols in Vanitas painting.

  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 136

Placesback to top

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 1683back to top

Current affairs

Rye House Plot, a conspiracy to murder the king and his heir, James, Duke of York, is leaked to the government by minor conspirator, Josiah Keeling. Arrests follow; some conspirators are executed, others pardoned while several flee the country.
Worst ever recorded frost in England freezes the Thames.

Art and science

England's first public museum, the Ashmolean Museum, is opened by Oxford University to house a substantial collection donated by the Antiquary, Elias Ashmole.


Financial constraints forces Charles II to decide to relinquish Tangiers, an English possession since 1661, unable to continue its defence against the Moors. Admiral, George Legge, Baron Dartmouth, is commissioned to oversee the port's demolition. Diarist, Samuel Pepys accompanies Dartmouth as his secretary during the expedition.

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