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Unknown man, formerly known as Daniel Purcell

1 portrait of Daniel Purcell

Later Stuart Portraits Catalogue

Unknown man, formerly known as Daniel Purcell

by Unknown artist
circa 1700
22 in. x 18 1/2 in. (559 mm x 470 mm)
NPG 1463

This portraitback to top

The traditional attribution to Closterman has not found acceptance (it is possibly the work of a Dutch painter) and the sitter's identity remains unproven. A version in the Worcester Cathedral Library appears identical apart from the music (which is identifiable as Henry Purcell's song 'Britons strike home' from Bonduca).
Two other portraits are known of the same sitter, each known as Henry Purcell:
a) with the Royal Society of Musicians, an unattributed half-length, holding up a scroll of music in his right hand; [1] perhaps a little later than NPG 1463; the provenance said to go back to Purcell's grandson, Edward.
b) Christ Church library, Oxford, a bust-length drawing, of copy quality, clearly showing the same head. [2]
Holmes in 1915 was the first to reject the identification of Henry Purcell, the long and slight face being clearly at variance with established portraits. He tentatively proposed Purcell's cousin Daniel (c.1670-1717); [3] Holmes's proposal was founded primarily on the alleged pedigree of a) above; if the sitter was a musician from the Purcell family and active c.1700 (i.e. immediately after Henry's death), Daniel was the only possibility. But in absence of a documented portrait of Daniel the identity must remain open to question.

Footnotesback to top

1) Illus. Burl. Mag., XXVII, 1915, p 186.
2) J. Byam Shaw, Drawings by Old Masters at Christ Church, 1976, no.1487 as after John Closterman?. A weak drawing, surely not to be associated with Closterman.
3) Chorister at the Chapel Royal 1678-82; organist at Magdalen College, Oxford, 1688-95; came to London in 1695 on Henry's death, taking over much of his work; his many works included the opera Brutus of Alba in 1696 and six published sonatas 1708-10; well-known as a socialite and punster (see Oxford Dictionary of National Biography).

Referenceback to top

Holmes 1915
C. J. Holmes, Burl. Mag., XXVII, 1915, pp 187-88 as perhaps Daniel Purcell.

Piper 1963
D. Piper, Catalogue of the Seventeenth Century Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery 1625-1714, 1963, p 289 as perhaps Daniel Purcell, attributed to J. B. Closterman.

Zimmerman 1958
F. B. Zimmerman in Organ and Choral Aspects and Prospects, ed. M. Hinrichse, 1958, pp 139, 146-47 as perhaps Daniel Purcell, attributed to Closterman.

Provenanceback to top

Archdeacon Charles Burney (1757-1817); his sale, 8 August 18141 lot 1032 'a very fine original portrait of H. Purcell (In his hand is a miniature of Queen Mary by Closterman'2, bought in by Mrs Burney; by descent to Charles Burney by whom presented 1907 as a portrait of Henry Purcell by Closterman.

1 Presumably from his father, Dr Charles Burney (1726-1814), cf. Purcell NPG 4994.
2 Any identification is impossible to confirm or deny. His wife Elizabeth (whom he married 1705 and who predeceased him) has been suggested, but no portrait of her is known.

Exhibitionsback to top

1 Second Special Exhibition of National Portraits ( ... William and Mary to MDCCC), South Kensington, 1867, no.38 as Henry Purcell by Closterman, lent by the Rev. Charles Burney; Gawthorpe 1987-.

1 The remains of a label, verso, suggest NPG 1463 appeared in a 'Musical' exhibition; Charles Burney (the donor, letter of 14 April 1907 on file) wrote 'apparently [the portrait] was also exhibited much later at some more recent exhibition for it bears a paper label in the hand writing of one of my sisters "Lent by Archdeacon Burney" but the date is not given'; this may have referred to the Music Loan Exhibition of 1904 (Fishmongers' Hall) but according to the commemorative catalogue, 1909, p 232, Archdeacon Burney was not a lender (a Mrs Sinclair and the Misses Done lent a portrait of Purcell attributed to Kneller).


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.