The Children of John Taylor of Bifrons Park

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The Children of John Taylor of Bifrons Park

by John Closterman
oil on canvas, 1696
74 3/4 in. x 107 in. (1898 mm x 2718 mm)
Purchased, 1980
Primary Collection
NPG 5320

Artistback to top

  • John Closterman (1660-1711), Artist. Artist or producer associated with 58 portraits.

Sittersback to top

This portraitback to top

In this great Baroque portrait, the artist has taken the Taylor family's motto 'Fame is sweeter than the white rose' as his organising motif. The oldest child Mary, seated centrally, holding a cornucopia of flowers, extends a white rose to her brother Nathaniel. The toddler below Nathaniel is Bridges; he offers a rose to the youngest child, Upton, who is supported by his brother John. On the left side, Olive and Margaret crown their brother Brook with laurel. Brook, who later became a distinguished mathematician, holds a recorder that symbolises family harmony.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • The British Portrait, 1660-1960, 1991, p. 123 number 113
  • Ingamells, John, Later Stuart Portraits 1685-1714, 2009, p. 281
  • 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. 32
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 723
  • Waterhouse, Ellis Kirkham, The dictionary of 16th & 17th century British painters, 1988, p. 48
  • Wilton, Andrew, The swagger portrait : grand manner portraiture in Britain from Van Dyck to Augustus John, 1630-1930, 1992, p. [105]

Events of 1696back to top

Current affairs

HMS Sovereign of the Seas is accidentally destroyed by fire at Chatham.
Window Duty, based upon the number of windows in a house, is levied by Parliament to support William III's war with France.
The Great Recoinage attempts to replace coins in circulation made up of hammered silver.

Art and science

Recently ordained, Jonathan Swift writes his first book, A Tale of a Tub, which includes an allegory of three brothers representing the principal divisions of Western Christianity.
Architect and playwright, John Vanbrugh's hugely successful comedy, The Relapse, is staged at the Drury Lane Theatre.


After several years of secret negotiations forged by William III with Louis XIV, king of France, to end the Nine Years' War, envoys from both sides unofficially begin serious talks.
Economic depression in Holland leads to riots in Amsterdam.

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Duncan Melville

25 September 2015, 20:35

Where is Septimus? bapt. 1691. How secure is the date?