Gilbert Jackson

It’s always exciting to be introduced to painters I’ve not seen before, and a reader has pointed me in the direction of Gilbert Jackson, an English portraitist who was active between the 1620s and 1640s.

Jackson is another artist whose life story is unclear. Born around 1595-1600, he was probably trained in London, and spent his career primarily painting provincial gentry and members of the professions.

Jane Savage
Jane Savage, Countess of Winchester (1632)

One assessment of him says that:

“His Art is purely English, and little influenced by the arrival in England of such painters as Paul van Somer, Daniel Mytens or Anthony Van Dyck. His work looks back to the flat hieratic style of the late Elizabethan Court, and he devotes infinite care to the rendition of surfaces, colours and textures whilst seeming to be indifferent to the niceties of perspective. The result is a mixture of sophisticated painterly technique allied with a naiveté of drawing which is at once deeply old-fashioned in the new world of the Baroque, and infinitely charming and unselfconscious.” (Lane Fine Art)

I’m not sure I’d agree about Mytens. The first Jackson I saw was the below picture of John Belasyse, and Mytens’ image of Charles I came to mind immediately, right down to the pose, the boots and the chequered floor. What do readers think?

Click to view Charles I by Mytens (1628)

John Belasyse
John Belasyse, 1st Baron Belasyse of Worlaby (1636)
©National Portrait Gallery, London

Influences aside, I think Jackson was quite a likeable artist,  if perhaps a little dated by the time of his last signed painting in 1643.  Here are some more of his works:

(c) National Trust, Croft Castle; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Edward Somerset, 4th Earl of Worcester (1621)

 

Jane Lambert
Jane Lambert, ©National Museum Cardiff

 

William Kingsmill

Sir William Kingsmill (1642)

 

Sir John Banks
Sir John Bankes (1643) @Kingston Lacy, Dorset

If readers know of any other, lesser-known or forgotten artists of the period that you’d like to see covered in a future blog, please get in touch! You can leave a message in the comments section.

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Telling A Story

The turbulence of the 17th century gave its painters plenty of inspiration, and allowed its portraitists scope to tell far more interesting stories than the straight-forward display of personal wealth or influence often requested by their patrons. While these commissioned portraits tell us something of the sitter, narrative portraits such as the one below illustrate the events of the times themselves.

NPG 1961; King Charles I; Sir Edward Walker by Unknown artist

Sir Edward Walker (1612-1677) served Charles I closely during the 1640s, wearing a number of different hats, including Secretary to the Council of War, Clerk Extraordinary of the Privy Council, Garter King of Arms and Secretary of War.  He would remain loyal to the royal family through the years of exile and into the Restoration.

I’ve not found much to explain what is going on in this picture, and the National Portrait Gallery website gives no detail at all.  I’ve stood in front of it countless times at the NPG and it’s worth stopping in for a look if you’re in the area.  There are several of versions in existence, with explainer text saying that Windsor Castle is visible in the background, as is some sort of battle and possibly an encampment. What is Walker writing for the King? The scene must be an imagined one, given that the picture is believed to date from 1650, after the King’s death,  but could there have been an event that inspired it? If anyone knows anything more about this painting, please let us know in the comments section!

 

 

 

 

Hair!

A reader has asked about hair fashions in 17th century England, as depicted in its art, so I thought we’d take a fun look at some of the more striking styles (natural or wig!) that I’ve come across in my research.

From the time King James came to the throne in 1603, women in art were usually shown still wearing the tudor styles, with their hair tied high on their head, decorated with jewels. The below portrait of Queen Anne of Denmark  by John de Critz is an example of this:

AnneofD

…and this one of Princess Elizabeth Stuart (Queen of Bohemia) by Robert Peake, in around 1606 (Metropolitan Museum)

ElizBohemia1606

 

Gradually, these high styles calmed down and became looser ringlets or curls:

Countess of Dorset
Lady Francis Buckhurst, Countess of Dorset, by Van Dyck (1637)

Countess of Lincoln
Bridget, 4th Countess of Lincoln, British School (?), date unknown

While the women stuck to variations on the above theme throughout the rest of the century, men seem to have had an ‘anything goes’ attitude to their hair.  Of course the quality and artistic licence of the painter has a lot to do with the impression we are left with, but a wide variety of styles were on offer, some more high-maintenance than others!

Sir John Ackland
Sir John Ackland by Robert Walker (1644), ©National Trust

Cmnwlth soldier
A Commonwealth Soldier, after Robert Walker
©York Museums Trust

Royalist2
A Royalist Officer, c. 1646-1649, attrib. Gerard Soest
©The Samuel Courtauld Trust

youngmaninarmour
A Young Man in Armour, attrib, to Studio of Van Dyck

Of course, when you’re talking about big 17th century hair, nobody beats the royal Stuart brothers and their wigs during the Restoration and beyond. I wonder what their heads looked like underneath?

JamesII
King James II, c.1690, ©National Portrait Gallery, London

CharlesIIwig
King Charles II, c.1680, attrib. Thomas Hawker
©National Portrait Gallery, London

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