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James Vernon

1 of 2 portraits of James Vernon

James Vernon, by Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt, 1677 -NPG 2963 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Later Stuart Portraits Catalogue

James Vernon

by Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt
1677
29 1/2 in. x 24 1/2 in. (749 mm x 622 mm)
NPG 2963

Inscriptionback to top

Inscribed on the first lining canvas (now separately conserved), verso: The Honorable James Vernon/Painted by Sir G. Kneller 1677 -, Cleaned & by Wm. Holder/6 Gt. Queen St/Lincoln’s Inn/London/Augt 1850, the first section apparently copied from the original canvas; the canvas also bears a printed label DASHWOOD HEIRLOOM NO.68.

This portraitback to top

One of Kneller’s earliest English portraits. After seeing Kneller’s portrait of John Banckes, his first English patron (Tate Gallery, TO5019) James Vernon

'who was then secretary to the Duke of Monmouth resolvd to have his picture done by this hand. Which when done gave him so much satisfaction that he promisd to show it to the Duke & beg the favour of his Graces picture done by Mr Kneller. In the interim Mr. Vernon Takes a house for Mr Kneller in York Buildings there livd one year & 4 years in Durham Yard.' [1]
In April 1677 Kneller had told his brother at York

'I am doing the portrait of the secretary of the Duke of Monmouth, who is a most amiable gentleman, and he likes 'the beginning so much that I have already begun his wife too … I shall treat him so that he becomes my friend: he can introduce me to courtiers ...' [2]
Kneller’s portrait of Vernon’s wife is now untraced.
Kneller also painted a whole-length of Vernon’s son James c.1691. [3]

Footnotesback to top

1) G. Vertue, Notebooks, Wal. Soc., XVIII, 1930, p 28.
2) BM.Add.MS 4277, f.104. See J. D. Stewart, Godfrey Kneller, 1983, pp 19, 183-84 (giving original Italian text and translation).
3) Government Art Collection (2094), from the Dashwood Heirlooms sale, 27 July 1938, lot 144; J. D. Stewart, Godfrey Kneller, 1983, no.817.

Referenceback to top

Millar 1957
O. Millar in M. Whinney & O. Millar, English Art 1625-1714, 1957, p 193.

Piper 1963
D. Piper, Catalogue of the Seventeenth Century Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery 1625-1714, 1963, pp 362-63.

Stewart 1983
J. D. Stewart, Godfrey Kneller, 1983, no.816, pp 18-19, 153-54.

Provenanceback to top

By descent to the sitter’s granddaughter Arethusa Vernon (d. 1860) who m. Sir Robert Harland (1765-1848) of Wherstead Park, Suffolk; Charles Edmund Dashwood (1857-1935); his niece Mrs I. H. Wilson (d. 1978); Dashwood heirlooms sale, Sotheby’s, 27 July 1938,1 lot 140, bought Waterhouse2 who sold it to the NPG the same year.

1 See NPG 5226.
2 [Sir] Ellis Waterhouse wrote to Adams, 28 July 1938 (letter on file), ‘I have started on the downward path of acquiring pictures … I seem insensibly to be starting on another Fairfax Murray series of 17th century portraits’ [i.e. Charles Fairfax Murray who gave the remarkable series of signed English portraits to the Dulwich Picture Gallery in 1911-17].

Exhibitionsback to top

Sir Godfrey Kneller, NPG, 1971, no.14; Beningbrough 1987–.


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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