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Sir Christopher Wren

2 of 14 portraits of Sir Christopher Wren

Sir Christopher Wren, by David Le Marchand, circa 1720 -NPG 4500 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Later Stuart Portraits Catalogue

Sir Christopher Wren

by David Le Marchand
circa 1720
5 in. x 3 5/8 in. (127 mm x 92 mm)
NPG 4500

This portraitback to top

Clearly made towards the end of Wren’s life and, though without signature, showing an ad vivum quality. [1] What appears to be a signed replica, is in the British Museum (457). [2] Derivations include Wedgwood medallions of c.1773, [3] and a medal by G. D. Gaab exhibited FS 1783, no.208. [4]

Footnotesback to top

1) D. Piper, NPG Annual Report 1967, pp 32-33.
2) Given by Mathew Raper III, 1765; C. Avery, David le Marchand 1674-1726, 1996, p 90, no.67.
3) R. Reilly & G. Savage, Wedgwood, the Portrait Medallions, 1973, p 346; an example exhibited Wedgwood Portrait Medallions, NPG, 1973, no.102.
4) Medallic Illustrations of The History of Great Britain and Ireland, British Museum, 1911, cxlv/8; illus. C. Avery, David le Marchand 1674-1726, 1996, p 79.

Provenanceback to top

Henry Willett; his daughter Margaret;1 Mrs Vasey until c.1940; S. R. Hawkswell of Bangor, Northern Ireland;2 Sotheby’s, July 1966, lot 54 as an unknown sitter, bought Peel, from whom purchased 1966.

1 A MS inscription on the backboard of the frame (now separately stored), apparently late 19th century, reads: ‘Bust of/Sir Christopher Wren/Architect/Born Oct 20 1633/Died 1724/aged 91 years/In Ivory by/Denis Le Marchandt/for my dear daughter/Margaret/H Willett’. In 1862 a ‘Mr Willett’ had a ‘head of a gentleman [by Le Marchand], pretty large, with the initial letters D.L.M.’ (Walpole, Anecdotes, 1862, II, p 625) - evidently not NPG 4500, which is unsigned - but the recurrence of the name is interesting.
2 He wrote on 27 October 1966 that ‘it has been in my possession for 20 to 25 years, & was bought from a Mrs Vasey, an elderly lady, who lived in or near Hythe …’.

Exhibitionsback to top

Wedgwood Portrait Medallions, NPG, 1973, no.102a; Sir Christopher Wren, Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1982, no.I:7; The Quiet Conquest, Museum of London, 1985, no.310; Le Marchand, 1996, no.48.

Reproductionsback to top

S. Coignand (‘from a bust’, reversed, for C. Wren, Parentalia or Memoirs of the Family of the Wrens ..., 1750, f.p.181).1

1 With title Numero Pondere et Mensura and arms as on Wren’s tomb in Westminster Abbey, described in C. Wren, Parentalia or Memoirs of the Family of the Wrens ..., 1750, p 232, as: ‘Argent, a Chevron between three Lions Heads erased Azure, on a Chief Gules three Cross-croslets Or.’


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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