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Sir Nathaniel Bacon

Sir Nathaniel Bacon, by Sir Nathaniel Bacon, circa 1620 - NPG L260 -

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Sir Nathaniel Bacon

by Sir Nathaniel Bacon
oil on canvas, circa 1620
81 1/4 in. x 60 1/2 in. (2064 mm x 1537 mm) overall
Lent by John Grimston, 7th Earl of Verulam, 2017
Primary Collection
NPG L260

On display in Room 4 at the National Portrait Gallery

Sitterback to top

  • Sir Nathaniel Bacon (1585-1627), Country gentleman and painter. Sitter in 4 portraits, Artist associated with 4 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Sir Nathaniel Bacon (1585-1627), Country gentleman and painter. Artist associated with 4 portraits, Sitter in 4 portraits.

This portraitback to top

This is the most magnificent of Bacon’s portraits and the only full-length self-portrait of a British artist from the seventeenth century. Bacon’s status as a gentleman was undoubtedly the factor that enabled such grand self-representation. He shows himself surrounded by objects alluding to his learning and skills, including books, papers suggesting optical experiments, pens, a book of maps (open at a map of present-day Germany, including the politically topical country of Bohemia), small classical statues, brushes and palette, an oil painting of Pallas Athene and a sword, denoting his status as a gentleman. A dog looks up at him with faithful adoration. His elaborate costume prominently features the colour yellow, a colour that had come to be particularly associated with Bacon as he had himself developed a notable recipe for yellow pigment, which was admired, used and commented on by other artists, both amateur and professional.

Events of 1620back to top

Current affairs

The 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 science

Francis 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.

International

The 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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