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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  1. Ooh this is exciting! I really should look up more of Jackson’s work. I know the picture of Lord Belasyse, saw it at the NGP [mumble mumble] years ago and loved it – handsome young Royalist-to-be, member of the Sealed Knot, absolutely spiffy dresser – what’s not to love? And heretical though it may be, I prefer Jackson’s portrait to Van Dyck’s.

    The painting is very like that one of Charles I, isn’t it? It also puts me in mind of the Mytens we’re lucky enough to have here at the NGV, of Sir John Ashburnham.

    It’s delightful to see these other Jackson works. I’ve loved the fashions of the 1630s since I was a teenager, and these purely English portraits are so informative about it, so detailed and rich, which portraits by Van Dyck or his followers aren’t, because of course they had completely different aims. I prefer a painting that places someone so firmly in their time and place (even if the floor is slanting alarmingly!) to one that classicises them.

    Curious coincidence, I was looking up the Bankes family the other night after an episode of Antiques Roadshow from Kingston Lacy.


  2. Hmm, sad. If I’m looking things up aright, Jane Savage was the first wife of the 5th Marquess of Winchester, and she passed over in 1633.

    At least she was spared the war and the sieges of Basing House. 😦


  3. Thanks for linking to the Ashburnham picture – I’d not seen that before! You’re right, it’s another ringer for the Mytens!The 1630s really were so distinctive, fashionwise. Even just a decade later the look was different. Fashion doesn’t seem to change as fast any more, I’ve noticed. I feel that until the end of the 1990s you could place someone in the right 20th century decade pretty accurately, but since then it’s all gone a bit generic and imprecise. A shame, really. Like you say, being able to place someone in their time and place just from the way they dress, can tell us so much about them.


    • Totally agree! The changes from the 1620s in particular are so marked, aren’t they? I’ll be sitting watching something *coughAntiquesRoadshowcough* and someone will say “This may represent Henrietta Maria from around 1630” and I’ll be saying “BOLLOCKS THAT IS A 1640s HAIRDO” or something equally erudite.

      This is why I do not watch any films or series set in the 17th century.

      I spent the 90s being a goth, so managed to miss whatever was happening fashion-wise. Fashion does seem to have fallen on its face since then. I mean, reviving 80s stuff? Whyyyyyy?



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