King George I
- Extended catalogue entry
Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue
King George I
studio of Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt
29 7/8 in. x 25 in. (756 mm x 635 mm)
Inscriptionback to top
Inscribed in gold, right, level with his chest: GEORG.I., and below, in black, in facsimile of a signature: G.Kneller/Eq: pinx:.
This portraitback to top
NPG 4223 is probably the best of several versions and if not autograph throughout, was surely produced in the artist's studio. A good version is in the Brunswick collection. Of the two in the Royal collection, the copy at Windsor bought by George IV, recorded first in 1816 at Carlton House, has the longer history (Sir Oliver Millar, The Tudor Stuart and Early Georgian Pictures in the collection of Her Majesty The Queen, 1963, 371). A studio version was listed at Buckingham Palace in 1866 (Sir Oliver Millar, The Tudor Stuart and Early Georgian Pictures in the collection of Her Majesty The Queen, 1963, 359). Another version described as an 'Heirloom from Lady Darlington',  belonged in 1908 to Alexander, Count Kielmansegge, descendant of John Adolph, Baron von Kielmansegge, master of the horse to George I. His wife Sophia Charlotte (c.1673-1735), née von Platen, was created Countess of Darlington in 1722. A copy of the portrait in Lord Salisbury's collection at Hatfield has gone under the name of the 7th Earl of Exeter. A miniature copy by B. Lens was sold at Christie's, 11 February 1936, lot 34.
The engraving of the type by Chéreau, the younger, reversed, with ermine edging to the drapery and without the Garter ribbon, included the lettering Inauguratus XX die Octobris 1714. The engraving, therefore, if not the painting, would seem to date from after the coronation. The sitter appears too old for a date prior to 1701, the year he was made knight of the Garter, and the omission of the Garter from the engraving and from known versions of the painting, remains unexplained. The portrait is probably associated with a payment to Kneller, dated 6 May 1715, which included twenty pounds 'for the coin'.  A possible date would be between George's arrival in England, 18 September 1714, and the coronation, 20 October.
Footnotesback to top
1) L. Melville, The First George, 1908, II, frontispiece.
2) Calendar of Treasury Books, XXIX (ii), p 508; quoted Sir Oliver Millar, The Tudor Stuart and Early Georgian Pictures in the collection of Her Majesty The Queen, 1963, p 148. For references to coinage, see W. Peck, English Copper, Tin and Bronze Coins at the British Museum, 1960, pp 198-203.
Physical descriptionback to top
Profile; dark eye, fresh complexion, grey wig resting on shoulder; white cravat, gold-edged armour, draped with pale mauve cloth, fastened by a brooch on his right shoulder; light brown background, greyish-brown spandrels with two rules, painted oval; lit from top left.
Conservationback to top
Slight retouchings on his right cheek; some rubbing outside the chin, which is now thin; a number of dark vertical lines in the wig, and opposite the necktie.
Provenanceback to top
Bought, 1961, through Leggatt's, from the sale of the late J. R. Marriott, Phillips Son & Neale, 19 July 1961, lot 312; from the collection of the late L. H. McCormick, Christie's, 1 December 1922, lot 74; earlier history unknown, but in view of the form GEORG in the inscription, probably at one time in a German collection.
Reproductionsback to top
Jacques Chéreau, the younger.
This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Kerslake, Early Georgian Portraits, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1977, 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.