The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Advanced Collection search

Sir Nathaniel Bacon

 Like voting
is closed

Thanks for Liking

Please Like other favourites!
If they inspire you please support our work.

Make a donation Close
  • Use this image
  • ShareShare this

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.


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.

Tell us more back to top

Can you tell us more about this portrait? Spotted an error, information that is missing (a sitter’s life dates, occupation or family relationships, or a date of portrait for example) or do you know anything that we don't know? If you have information to share please complete the form below.

If you require information from us, please use our Archive enquiry service. You can buy a print of most illustrated portraits. Select the portrait of interest to you, then look out for a Buy a Print button. Prices start at £6 for unframed prints, £25 for framed prints. If you wish to license this image, please use our Rights and Images service.

Please note that we cannot provide valuations.

We digitise over 8,000 portraits a year and we cannot guarantee being able to digitise images that are not already scheduled.

What can you tell us?close

There are occasions when we are unsure of the identity of a sitter or artist, their life dates, occupation or have not recorded their family relationships. Sometimes we have not recorded the date of a portrait. Do you have specialist knowledge or a particular interest about any aspect of the portrait or sitter or artist that you can share with us? We would welcome any information that adds to and enhances our information and understanding about a particular portrait, sitter or artist.


How do you know this? Please could you let us know your source of information.

* Permission to publish (Privacy information)
Privacy Informationclose

The National Portrait Gallery will NOT use your information to contact you or store for any other purpose than to investigate or display your contribution. By ticking permission to publish you are indicating your agreement for your contribution to be shown on this collection item page. Please note your email address will not be displayed on the page nor will it be used for any marketing material or promotion of any kind.

Please ensure your comments are relevant and appropriate. Your contributions must be polite and with no intention of causing trouble. All contributions are moderated.

Your Emailclose

Contributions are moderated. We'll need your email address so that we can follow up on the information provided and contact you to let you know when your contribution has been published.