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Samuel Pepys

Samuel Pepys, by John Riley, circa 1690 -NPG 2100 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Later Stuart Portraits Catalogue

Samuel Pepys

attributed to John Riley
circa 1690
29 in. x 23 in. (737 mm x 584 mm) oval
NPG 2100

This portraitback to top

The identity was first proposed by Milner in 1925 and, as Piper observed, ‘is reasonably confirmed by other portraits, although the furrow between the eyebrows is less marked than usual, and the features are almost gross’. There remains the shadow of a doubt.
An attribution to John Closterman, proposed by Milner in 1925, was not subsequently accepted by Malcolm Rogers [1] and an attribution to Riley seems more probable. Possibly the Mr Pepys’s Head by Riley listed in 1824 amongst the Pepys Cockerell pictures. [2] A version (61 x 48 cm) which had belonged to Sir Lionel Cust, [3] sold Sotheby’s, 6 April 1993, lot 17 as Pepys by Riley, now belongs to the Clothworkers’ Company, [4] and see NPG 2092.
A three-quarter-length variant, left arm resting on pedestal, right hand at breast, doubtfully identified as Pepys, has also been attributed to Riley (Art Museum, Princeton University, 64-212).

Footnotesback to top

1) NPG 2100 was not included in Rogers’s catalogue of Closterman (M. Rogers, ‘John and John Baptist Closterman: a catalogue of their works’, Wal. Soc., XLIX, 1983).
2) In the Pepys Library, Magdalene College, Cambridge (box 4, Pepys ex. muniment); transcript in NPG archive.
3) See L. Cust, ‘Notes on the Portraits of Samuel Pepys’ [read in 1913], Pepys Club Occasional Papers, I, 1917, p 30: ‘[this portrait] has been pronounced by competent authorities on its own merits to be probably the work of John Ryley’.
4) D. E. Wickham, Clothworkers’ Hall Portraits, 1997, pp 126-27, no.63.

Referenceback to top

Connoisseur, LXXIV, 1926, p 121, as by Closterman.

Piper 1963
D. Piper, Catalogue of the Seventeenth Century Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery 1625-1714, 1963, p 270.

Provenanceback to top

Sir Kenneth James Mathison, 2nd Bt., his sale Puttick & Simpson, Brighton, 24 March 1920, lot 404 as an unknown man by Kneller;1 Sotheby’s, 22 July 1925, lot 130, bought J. D. Milner, by whom presented 1925.

1 Typed label verso: This painting bought at Sale, March 24th 1920. The property of the Late Sir Kenneth James Mathison, Bart, 19 Sussex Square, Brighton/Kneller/Portrait of a Gentleman with flowing hair, lace cravat and brown cloak, Oval 28” x 22” in gilt frame.

Exhibitionsback to top

Anglo-Jewish Art & History, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1956, no.85; Samuel Pepys Esqre, NPG, 1970, no.11; Tercentenary of The Royal Mathematical School, Christ’s Hospital, Horsham, 1973; Beningbrough 1978–.


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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