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Sir James Thornhill

2 of 14 portraits of Sir James Thornhill

Later Stuart Portraits Catalogue

Sir James Thornhill

by Sir James Thornhill
circa 1715-1720
45 1/4 in. x 58 7/8 in. (1148 mm x 1495 mm) overall
NPG 5339

This portraitback to top

The composition shows a portrait of the middle-aged Thornhill (compare NPG 3962) set on an easel before an allegorical figure with palette and brushes in her left hand and a porte-crayon in her right; behind her a winged putto unfurls a scroll and the drawing of an old man’s head lies behind her arm.
NPG 5339 is dated solely by Thornhill’s appearance. It is not known whether it ever formed part of a decorative scheme, though the existence of a companion piece, an Allegory of Medicine, makes this probable.

Referenceback to top

Simon & Saywell (eds.) 2004
Complete Illustrated Catalogue, NPG, ed. J. Simon & D. Saywell, 2004, p 615.

Provenanceback to top

‘From an Irish collection … believed to have been painted for the Library at Headley Park’;1 Christie’s, 23 June 1978, lot 117 as an Allegory of Painting, paired with an Allegory of Medicine; Sabin Galleries, from whom purchased 1980.

1 As described by Sabin, receipt of 18 November 1980 (on file). E. Croft-Murray, Decorative Painting in England, I, Early Tudor to Sir James Thornhill, 1962, p 270 described the ceiling, painted for William Huggins at Headley Park, as ‘Minerva and History attended by putti symbolizing the Arts, one with a male portrait. Destroyed after 1808.’ Nicols & Steevens, Genuine Works of Hogarth, I, 1808, p 44, described Thornhill’s allegorical ceiling at Headley as the story of Zephyrus and Flora, ‘the figure of a Satyr and some others … painted by Hogarth’.

Exhibitionsback to top

Beningbrough 2006–.


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.

View all known portraits for Sir James Thornhill