by Unknown artist
oil on oak panel, circa 1620
36 1/8 in. x 28 in. (918 mm x 710 mm)
Purchased with help from the Portrait Fund, the Art Fund, L.L. Brownrigg, Sir Harry Djanogly, Laurence Chase, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Fletcher tearooms at Rye, E.A. Whitehead, the Dame Helen Gardner Bequest, Mrs A. Campbell, the Pidem Fund, proceeds of the 150th anniversary portrait gala, and numerous supporters of a public appeal, 2008
This portraitback to top
This is the only known portrait of Fletcher from life. The verse written on the paper beside him pays a compliment to his wit and expresses conventional sentiments about the inability of painting, as opposed to poetry, to convey the mind of the sitter.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Smartify image discovery app
- Bolland, Charlotte, Tudor & Jacobean Portraits, 2018, p. 124 Read entry
John Fletcher came from a reasonably wealthy Protestant family and was probably educated at Cambridge. He became an immensely popular and prolific playwright and wrote three plays jointly with Shakespeare in 1612-13: Cardenio (now lost), Henry VIII (All is True) and The Two Noble Kinsmen. He is particularly known, however, for his many collaborations with Francis Beaumont, with whom he lived on Bankside; these included Philaster (c.1609), The Maid's Tragedy (c.1610) and A King and No King? (c.1611). This is the only known portrait of Fletcher from the life. He presents himself alongside the tools of his trade, wearing an expensive black suit with a gold belt and aglets. The verse written on the paper beside him pays a compliment to his wit and expresses conventional sentiments about the inability of painting, as opposed to poetry, to convey the mind of the sitter.
Events of 1620back to top
Current affairsThe beginning of a severe economic depression in England is widely blamed on the East India Company whose export of bullion on each voyage financed their trade. Additionally, despite efforts by Lionel Cranfield, Earl of Middlesex, to reduce the royal household's expenditure, James I's debt is historically high.
Art and scienceFrancis Bacon publishes his major philosophical work Novum Organum, which presents his account of the correct method of acquiring natural knowledge using inductive reasoning.
Inventor and mechanical engineer, Cornelis Drebbel builds an early type of submarine which he demonstrates on the Thames.
InternationalThe Catholic League's invasion of Bohemia and victory at the battle of the White Mountain, forces Frederick V, king of Bohemia and his family into exile in the Hague, after less than a year reigning.
The Pilgrim Fathers sail for America in the 'Mayflower', escaping religious persecution in England.
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