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

William Russell, 1st Duke of Bedford

William Russell, 1st Duke of Bedford, by Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt, circa 1692 -NPG 298 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Early Stuart Portraits Catalogue

William Russell, 1st Duke of Bedford

by Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt
circa 1692
96 1/2 in. x 60 1/2 in. (2451 mm x 1537 mm)
NPG 298

Inscriptionback to top

Signed, centre right (beneath plume): G Kneller (GK in monogram); inscribed on garter: HONI SOIT.

This portraitback to top

Kneller was extensively employed at Woburn, the Duke being amongst his earliest patrons. NPG 298 may perhaps be equated with the payment made to Kneller in December 1694 of thirty pounds for ‘His Grace the Duke of Bedford’s picture in whole length’ (Woburn archive; G. Scott Thompson, Life in a Noble Household, 1937, p 296; J. Douglas Stewart, Sir Godfrey Kneller and the English Baroque Portrait, 1983, p 194).

Referenceback to top

Piper 1963
David Piper, Catalogue of Seventeenth-Century Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery 1625-1714, 1963, p 25.

Stewart 1983
J. Douglas Stewart, Sir Godfrey Kneller and the English Baroque Portrait, 1983, no.81.

Physical descriptionback to top

Whole-length, wearing the red coronation robes of a Duke beneath the blue mantle of a Knight of the Order of the Garter, folded back on one side to reveal its white lining. The Duke wears the collar of the Order of the Garter, with a jewelled pendant, the Great George, showing Saint George killing the dragon. On the table is the plumed hat of a Garter Knight. The Garter is inscribed with the first two words of the motto of the order, 'Honi soit qui mal y pense'.

Conservationback to top

Relined 1961; vertical seams either side, approximately 35 mm from each edge; repaired tear below right wrist and scattered retouchings; discoloured varnish.

Provenanceback to top

C. H. Waters, from whom purchased 1870 (probably the Kneller whole-length portrait in Garter robes, plumed hat on a table, a favourite spaniel beside him, offered for sale by Rodd in 1824 (H. Rodd, Catalogue of Authentic Portraits, 1824, p 3, no.ix)).

Exhibitionsback to top

British Art, British Council, Prague/Bratislava/Vienna, 1969; Pittura Inglese, Milan, 1975, no.13; on loan at Beningbrough 1982-.

This extended catalogue entry is by John Ingamells, one of a limited number of entries drafted in 2010 for the incomplete catalogue, Early Stuart Portraits 1625-1685, and is as written then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.

View all known portraits for William Russell, 1st Duke of Bedford

View all known portraits for Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt


Our channel

View a wide collection of video content on our YouTube channel from past projects to our latest films.

Sit back and watch

Artist and sitter interviews

Get insights into creating portraiture from BP Portrait Award 2020 artists and their sitters.

Explore behind the scenes

Sleeping Awake

Watch our film created to say ‘goodbye’ to the Gallery before we closed for our major transformation project.

Hear our story