1 of 24 portraits of John Bunyan
- Extended catalogue entry
Early Stuart Portraits Catalogue
by Thomas Sadler
29 1/2 in. x 25 in. (749 mm x 635 mm)
Inscriptionback to top
Signed, upper left: T.S./pinx. and inscribed in a contemporary hand: John Bunyan/Ano.AEtats;56.
This portraitback to top
The earliest dated portrait of Bunyan, NPG 1311 is also the most substantial. Sadler was not an outstanding artist, but he does convey Bunyan’s ‘grave and sedate’ appearance. Son of the Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, who was himself a church reformer and visionary, Sadler had studied law before becoming a pupil of Lely. He was possibly Bunyan’s ‘very good friend a limner’ whose portrait of Bunyan was ‘was cut in copper’. 
The many other images of Bunyan are derivative, save for the slightly earlier drawing by Robert White. Copies of NPG 1311 include those in the Bunyan Museum, Bedford (on glass), and recorded in Grosvenor Square in 1892, with R. H. B. Bedford in 1898, and William Green in 1910 (NPG archives).
Footnotesback to top
Referenceback to top
D. Piper, Catalogue of the Seventeenth Century Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery 1625-1714, 1963, pp 44-45.
Conservationback to top
Lined; cleaned and retouched 1982.
Provenanceback to top
Thomas Caporn, bequeathed to Sarah Clark 1806;1 bt. Rev. John Oliver, of Ayot St Lawrence, 1854; his dau. Mary, Countess of Cavan (1846-1905), from whom purchased 1902.
1 Who alleged he had bt. it in 1854 from Sarah Clark (an old woman). A MS note dated Feby 25 1806 (on file) reads: ‘I give to Sarah Clark the picter of Jo. Bunyan The bed & Beding & the Chest of Draws & all the Funneture in the Roome that she sleeps in ..... [Signed] Thos Caporn/James Cook Whitness’ An anon. MS note on file, probably from 1902, reads: ‘... Mr Olive obtained the portrait from an old woman, named Clarke, who signed a statement at the time to the effect, that it had been given to her by her former master, a disenting minister near Bedford, who had himself seen Bunyan and heard him preach ...’. But this is very difficult to construe chronologically.
Exhibitionsback to top
First Exhibtion of National Portraits, South Kensington, 1866, no.796 lent Rev. John Oliver.
Reproductionsback to top
T. Simpson 1767 (from a painting belonging to Henry Stimson); R. Houston (J. Chaloner Smith, British Mezzotinto Portraits, 1878-82, 18); J. Spilsbury c.1763 (J. Chaloner Smith, British Mezzotinto Portraits, 1878-82, 1); J. Rogers; Edwards; F. Holl c.1847 (from a drawing by K. Macleay).
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 John Bunyan