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John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough

John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, by John Closterman; John Riley, based on a work of circa 1685-1690 -NPG 501 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Later Stuart Portraits Catalogue

John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough

possibly by John Closterman, after John Riley
based on a work of circa 1685-1690
29 5/8 in. x 24 3/4 in. (754 mm x 630 mm)
NPG 501

This portraitback to top

The face mask recurs in the three-quarter-length attributed to Riley 1685-90 at Blenheim. A three-quarter-length version (of square format, with right hand holding baton and left on hip, his helmet lying on a table to the left) is also at Blenheim where attributed to Closterman. [1] The distinction between the late works of Riley (d. 1691) and the early works of John Closterman, who was working with him in the later 1680s, remains unclear. [2]

Footnotesback to top

1) G. Scharf, Catalogue raisonné; or, A List of the Pictures in Blenheim Palace, 1862, p 26 as by Kneller.
2) Cf. M. Rogers, ‘John and John Baptist Closterman: a catalogue of their works’, Wal. Soc., XLIX, 1983, pp 226-27.

Referenceback to top

Piper 1963
D. Piper, Catalogue of the Seventeenth Century Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery 1625-1714, 1963, p 216.

Provenanceback to top

Sir George Henry Smyth (1784-1852) of Berechurch Hall, Colchester; his son-in-law, Thomas White (d. 1878); Christie’s, 23 March 1878, lot 33, ‘Marlborough by Kneller’, bought Henry Graves,1 from whom purchased 1878.

1 Seen by Scharf who noted in the sale catalogue: ‘oval in square canvas, to waist in armour face ¾ to right. Light from r.h. no garter. Face as in Closterman … the property of Thomas George Graham White Esq deceased, grandson and heir of Sir G. H. Smyth, MP late of Berechurch Hall, Essex [whose estates passed to his daughter Charlotte who married Thomas White of Dobbins in Wethersfield, Essex, and who d. 1845 leaving issue]’. Smyth had inherited pictures from Sir Robert Graham (1744-1836).

Exhibitionsback to top

Beningbrough 1979–.


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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