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

Unknown man, formerly known as John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough

Unknown man, formerly known as John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, by Unknown artist, based on a work of circa 1704 -NPG 1858 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Later Stuart Portraits Catalogue

Unknown man, formerly known as John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough

by Unknown artist
based on a work of circa 1704
30 1/2 in. x 24 3/4 in. (775 mm x 629 mm)
NPG 1858

Inscriptionback to top

Inscribed, lower right: John Duke of/Marlborough/1704.

This portraitback to top

NPG 1858 is of copy quality and was acquired as a portrait of the 3rd Earl of Peterborough ascribed to Kneller. The traditional Kneller attribution is questionable, and, as Piper observed, there is a marked resemblance to Marlborough (as whom it had been sold in 1919). Nothing may be added to his conclusion that ‘the likelihood is that [NPG 1858] is a fairly free posthumous copy based on a lost original presumably of 1704 [the inscribed date, and the year of Blenheim], and that it was intended to represent Marlborough but that its value as a likeness is very questionable’.

Referenceback to top

Piper 1963
D. Piper, Catalogue of the Seventeenth Century Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery 1625-1714, 1963, p 218 as Marlborough after Kneller.

Steegman 1962
J. Steegman, Portraits in Welsh Houses, II, 1962, p 696 as an unknown sitter.

Provenanceback to top

Wentworth Castle;1 Vernon-Wentworth sale, Christie’s, 13 November 1919, lot 77 as The Duke of Marlborough, ascribed to Kneller; purchased from Leggatt 1920 as the 3rd Earl of Peterborough.2

1 A Duke of Marlborough was listed at Wentworth Castle in 1770 (Sir William Musgrave, MS lists of portraits, British Museum, Add. MSS 5726e5, f.13). A ‘Duke of Marlborough’ in the Wentworth Castle sale, 3rd day, 9 June 1948, lot 682, was certainly wrongly named.
2 See NPG 1366 which was sold in 1920 in part exchange.

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.

View all known portraits for John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough

Visit From Your Armchair

Self-portrait as My Father from the series Encounter  by Silvia Rosi © Silvia Rosi

Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize

An online exhibition celebrating the very best in contemporary portrait photography.

Visit now

Hold Still

Hold Still

Explore our community photography project, which presents a personal record of the UK during lockdown.

Explore the exhibition

Margaret Thatcher by Spitting Images Productions Ltd painted plastic, 1985

Sculptures in 360°

See sculptures and fascinating objects from our Collection from all angles.

View the 360s

David Hockney: Drawing from Life

Watch highlights from our special exhibition, which had to close early in March 2020 due to lockdown.

See the video