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Gilbert Burnet

1 of 24 portraits of Gilbert Burnet

Later Stuart Portraits Catalogue

Gilbert Burnet

after John Riley
based on a work of 1690
29 1/4 in. x 24 3/4 in. (743 mm x 629 mm)
NPG 159

This portraitback to top

As Bishop of Salisbury Burnet became chancellor of the Order of the Garter in April 1689 and he is shown here wearing the robes of that office. NPG 159 is copied from the three-quarter-length Riley pattern (which includes the chancellor’s Purse to the right) engraved in 1690. The original, which was bequeathed by the sitter to his son, remains unidentified among several surviving versions: [1]
a) Tyninghame (on loan to the Scottish NPG)
b) formerly with the Baronets Burnet of Leys
c) Marischal College, Aberdeen [2]
d) Eastnor Castle
e) Salisbury Cathedral School
f) with D. Minlore 1936
g) Sotheby’s, 18 June 1952, lot 133
A drawing by John Smith, possibly preparatory for his half-length oval engraving of 1690 (J. Chaloner Smith, British Mezzotinto Portraits, 29), is in the British Museum (5227-47); [3] a similar drawing by Jonathan Richardson is in the Huntington Art Collections, San Marino CA, [4] and a pen and ink copy by Edward Byng of a close version is in the British Museum.

Footnotesback to top

1) For these versions, see J. Ingamells, The English Episcopal Portrait 1559-1835, catalogue, 1981, pp 139-40.
2) E. Croft-Murray & P. Hulton, British Museum, Catalogue of British Drawings: XVI and XVII centuries, 1960, p 256 (1897.8.13.8; Byng 7:f.104r). An inscribed pencil copy by William Mosman 1764 sold Christie’s, Cullen House, 22 September 1975, lot 589; a copy by McIlvine 1722-23 is also in the Marischal College.
3) Illus. S. Whittingham, 'Some Portraits of Bishop Burnet around 1690', Burl. Mag., CXVIII, 1976, p 647. For the Smith plate, see C. Blackett-Ord, ‘Richard Tompson’, Wal. Soc., LXX, 2008, T.21, fig.15.
4) Inscribed … Done by my Father from the picture of Mr Riley, & under His Direction, for the Print in Mezzo Tinto (R. Wark, Early British Drawings in the Huntington Collection, 1969, p 40 and illus.).

Referenceback to top

Ingamells 1981
J. Ingamells, The English Episcopal Portrait 1559-1835, catalogue, 1981, p 139.

Piper 1963
D. Piper, Catalogue of the Seventeenth Century Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery 1625-1714, 1963, pp 46-47.

Wittingham 1976
S. Wittingham, ‘Some Portraits of Bishop Burnet around 1690’, Burl. Mag., CXVIII, 1976, p 649.

Provenanceback to top

[said to have come from the collection of the publisher Sir Richard Phillips (1767-1840)1] purchased from P. & D. Colnaghi 1863.

1 Colnaghi had bought 22 portraits from ‘an old lady’ for £200; ‘Sir Richard Philips owd her £800 & the Pictures were left as security for the money which was never paid’ (note from George Barker, 28 March 1863; NPG archive). The NPG purchased four of these portraits, see Steele NPG 160 in this catalogue, and Chesterfield NPG 158 and Richardson NPG 161 in J. Kerslake, National Portrait Gallery, Early Georgian Portraits, 1977, pp 40-41, 231-32; Kerslake identified Phillips as the radical publisher.

Exhibitionsback to top

Tercentenary Exhibition, Royal Society, Burlington House, 1960; Lyme Park 1983–.


This extended catalogue entry is from the National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Ingamells, National Portrait Gallery: Later Stuart Portraits 1685–1714, National Portrait Gallery, 2009, and is as published 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.

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