John Playford (maybe)

This week’s ebay find claims to depict a London gentleman named John Playford (1623-1686/7),  bookseller, publisher and composer.

Playford Jackson

It is attributed to Gilbert Jackson, whose life and works we looked at in a previous entry. I’m not a Jackson expert, but having compared this painting to Jackson’s known works, I’m sceptical. What do readers think?  The sitter and artist are identified by a label on the reverse, but something tells me it’s not original!

Playford Jackson reverse

As with most eBay art sales, no provenance or technical information is given, but at least this seller has posted images of the reverse, which is often a key source for the art detective.

Whoever painted it, I rather like Mr Playford, even if he does have disturbingly large hands…

Leave a comment


  1. Count me in with the scepticism re: Jackson. I’ve only seen one of his works in person – his portrait of Lord Belasyse – but even looking on the interwebs, his portraits are better works than this. More convincing surface detail, better grasp of textures and proportions.

    Also, I know fashion is variable with what class we’re talking about, but that looks like a late 1630s style, with the very wide collar that was the height of fashion then but replaced by much smaller ones within a few years. Unless Mr Playford was happily sporting a fashion a good decade out of date (perfectly possible, I know) this man seems too old to have been born in 1623. Be good if it is him – I love his Popular Tunes. 🙂


    • It’s too flat for me. And the lacework, while quite nicely done, seems a bit simplistic compared to others I’ve seen from Jackson. I’d never heard of Playford before – another to research!


      • Yes, flat is exactly the word! Jackson might have been a bit wobbly on perspective but his people have depth and solidity.

        I’ve not read about Playford, but I have a few LPs with pieces from his collections.

        Hmm, this is interesting – I just looked at the Wikipedia piece on him. It has an engraving by a contemporary, David Loggan. D’you reckon it looks like an older version of the chap in the painting? The nose could be right, but otherwise, hmm.


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