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John Somers, Baron Somers

3 of 38 portraits of John Somers, Baron Somers

John Somers, Baron Somers, by Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt, circa 1715-1716 -NPG 3223 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Later Stuart Portraits Catalogue

John Somers, Baron Somers

by Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt
circa 1715-1716
35 3/4 in. x 27 3/4 in. (908 mm x 705 mm)
NPG 3223

Inscriptionback to top

The book lettered Spencers/Fairy/Queen//Vol.I.; signed, bottom left: GKneller (GK in monogram).

This portraitback to top

The Kit-Cat Club portrait. Painted in the last year of his life, when Somers’s health was rapidly declining; the date seems confirmed by the presence of the first of the six octavo volumes of Tonson’s edition of Spenser’s works, published in 1715 and dedicated to Somers. In the flattering preface by John Hughes, Somers was described as ‘one of the greatest Statesmen the Age has produc’d … Even in your greatest Retirement, you can never be wholly hid from the Eyes of a People, to whom you have done so much good’. [1] The Tonson Papers record another copy made in 1731 by John Vanderbank for Lord Raymond, [2] and a modern copy by J. Wilson Forster is at Trinity College, Oxford. [3] A drawing of this type by Edward Byng is in the British Museum. [4]

Footnotesback to top

1) See Kathleen Lynch, Jacob Tonson Kit-Cat Publisher, 1971, p 132.
2) ‘20 March 1731 Recd of Mr Tonson 20gn. For a copy of the late Lord Somers for Lord Raymond/Jo Vanderbank’ (Tonson Papers, box 1). Lord Raymond (1673-1733), the celebrated Lord Chief Justice.
3) Presented in 1911; Mrs R. L. Poole, Catalogue of Portraits in the possession of the University, Colleges, City and County of Oxford, III, p 130, no.35.
4) E. Croft-Murray & P. Hulton, British Museum, Catalogue of British Drawings: XVI and XVII centuries, 1960, p 225 (1897.8.13.6; Byng 5:f.17r).

Referenceback to top

Piper 1963
D. Piper, Catalogue of the Seventeenth Century Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery 1625-1714, 1963, p 320 as c.1700-10.

Stewart 1983
J. D. Stewart, Godfrey Kneller, 1983, no.685 as c.1715-16.

Exhibitionsback to top

Art Treasures, Manchester, 1857, British Portrait Gallery 263; Manners & Morals, Hogarth and British Painting 1700–1760, Tate Gallery, no.26.

Reproductionsback to top

G. Vertue 1713;1 J. Faber II 1733 (J. Chaloner Smith, British Mezzotinto Portraits, 208/26).

1 D. Alexander, ‘George Vertue as an Engraver’, Wal. Soc., LXX, 2008, no.77.


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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