Picture of the Day

Here’s a lovely example of a portrait showing its age. This was on sale at auction last year, attributed to an unknown painter of the English School, and dated 1648.  The sitter is Vincent Denne (1628-1693),  “One of the ancient Dennes of Kent, forefather of Septimus Pennington”. He was a Member of Parliament in 1654 and from 1681 to 1685. I’ve not heard of  him before, but the auction website gives a good biographical history of Vincent and his family.

Vincent Denne

Although in need of a good clean but apparently ‘cleverly restored’ in 1906, I like that this is dirty and a bit worse for wear. His face shows a lot of life lived, and so does his portrait!


**Ed’s Note:  A reader has spotted that if Vincent were born in 1628, he should be about 12 years old here!! Further research has also found a will written in 1722, confusing matters further. Any thoughts? Perhaps the sitter is actually Vincent’s father…?


* http://www.the-saleroom.com/it-it/auction-catalogues/cheffinsfineart/catalogue-id-srche10064/lot-b62bae4d-fa3b-4f1f-b759-a4ae0106d61f



John Hoskins

I’ve chosen a slightly different direction for today’s blog, as I wanted to look at the work of miniaturist John Hoskins, who worked in London from around 1634. He impressed King Charles I so much that he was given an annuity of £200 for life in 1640, ‘provided that he work not for any other without his Majesty’s licence’. Very little is known about Hoskins except that he was born around 1589 or 1590, and died in 1665. Another well-known miniaturist, Samuel Cooper, was his nephew and pupil.

Here are some of my favourite Hoskins miniatures.


Algernon Sidney by Hoskins
Algernon Sidney (1659), ©Fitzwilliam Museum


Robert Carr by Hoskins
Robert Carr, Earl of Somerset, ©National Portrait Gallery, London


Officer by Hoskins
Portrait of an Officer, date not given


Lady Mary Glemham by Hoskins
Lady Mary Glemham (1648)


Charles Lucas
Sir Charles Lucas, 1645


Endymion Porter by Hoskins
Endymion Porter (c.1630), ©Metropolitan Museum of Art

Dobson Biography Published

I’m very  pleased to announce that my Dobson biography, “William Dobson: The King’s Painter” is now available! You can purchase exclusively through the publisher, via the link below.

Tyger’s Head Books


Dobson Portrait and Biography

Two big updates!

Those who follow the movements of English Civil War paintings at auction will know how rarely a portrait by William Dobson comes up for sale, so the recent announcement that one of only three known self-portraits will be sold at Bonhams this July is incredibly exciting! Alongside the portrait at Alnwick Castle, in which Dobson appears with his friend Sir Charles Cotterell and the musician Nicholas Lanier, and another recently returned to Osterley Park in Middlesex by the Earl of Jersey, is the earliest known self-portrait, which has not been seen in public since it was displayed at the National Portrait Gallery exhibition in 1983.

©Bonhams/ZCZ Films

I’m hoping against hope that a national institution might consider buying it, so that it can go on public display rather than disappear into a private collection again. The National Portrait Gallery would be the perfect home, given that Dobson lived in the same street, and was buried at the church of St Martin in the Fields, right on the NPG’s doorstep – the NPG also has some of his works on display – but anything can happen at auction, so fingers will be firmly crossed on 6th July…!

The second big news is that my biography “William Dobson: The King’s Painter” will be available from next week through the publisher’s website. The book covers the early origins of the Dobson family, and charts their journey through the 17th century, including William’s career and work for King Charles I in Oxford. It also attempts to unravel a number of unchallenged claims about Dobson’s life, such as the suggestion he was a pupil of Sir Antony Van Dyck.

Here is the link. The publication date will be posted shortly.

Tyger’s Head Books

I hope you enjoy it!

Picture of the Day

William Davenant
Sir William Davenant (1606-1668) As A Young Man (Old Member of Lincoln College),
by Robert Walker, ©Lincoln College, University of Oxford

An English poet and playwright, Davenant was long rumoured to have been either the godson or even the biological son of William Shakespeare. A supporter of King Charles I during the English civil wars, Davenant was accused of high treason by Parliament in 1641, after which he he fled to France. He returned to the King’s side a few years later, before leaving for Paris again in 1645 after the Royalist defeat at Naseby. After various adventures, including capture at sea and and a death sentence while in service of the exiled Charles II, he spent a year in the Tower of London before being pardoned. After one last arrest and flight to France, he returned to England with the restored king, and spent the rest of his life writing poems and producing plays for the newly reopened theatres.

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An insight into the weird and wonderful life of a National Trust Conservation Team at one of England's greatest houses.

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17th Century Enthusiast

Warring Words

Writing about the English Civil War

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An art history blog

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