Picture of the Day: Sir William Temple

Sir William Temple

This beautiful painting is at the National Portrait Gallery in London, labelled after Sir Peter Lely, and based on a work of circa 1660. A lot of ‘after’ works are very obviously  not in the same league as the original, but I think this really evokes Sir Peter, and the painter was in my (admittedly inexpert) opinion, an accomplished and talented painter in their own right.  Are there any Lely fans in the readership who know more about it, or have any idea where the original might be? No date is given, so it could be this version is not even 17th century, although I’d hazard a guess it is.

Sir William Temple (1628-1629), was born in London, the son of Irish lawyer, courtier and politician, Sir John Temple, and was himself employed as a diplomat, travelling around Europe on behalf of the crown, one of his achievements being the successful negotiation of marriage between the Prince of Orange and Princess Mary. Although he was much respected and consulted by Charles II on matters of state, Temple disapproved of the crown’s anti-Dutch course, and retired from court.

He died in 1699 and was much mourned, with Swift lamenting that “all that was good and amiable in mankind departed with him”.


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


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.

Picture of the Day

Red scarf Van Dyck
Portrait of a Man in Armour with Red Scarf, c.1625-1627, by Anthony Van Dyck,
©Gemäldegalerie, Dresden


Another example of Van Dyck at his best, in my opinion. I prefer him when he steps away from the familiar high-society lords and  ladies and gives us something a little different. In this case the sitter is looking away from the viewer at something in the distance behind us,  and the background gives no clues at all as to who he may be. A gentleman soldier, maybe?  Perhaps someone with a knowledge of 17th century European armour might be able to offer some insight. Comments welcome!


Picture of the Day

This unknown man, painted c.1640, is currently resident at the Heckscher Museum of Art in New York.

Unknown 1640
Portrait of a Man, c. 1640, Unknown Artist (English, Seventeenth Century)

Oil on wood panel, 15-1/2 x 11-3/4 in., August Heckscher Collection. 1959.122

The museum website (www.heckscher.org) gives the following information:

“Although neither the artist nor the subject of this portrait has been identified, the armor worn by the sitter is typical of English manufacture during the first half of the seventeenth century. The hinged shoulder clasps distinguish the fine quality of the armor and suggest that it may have been produced at the royal workshops in Greenwich that were established by Henry VIII in 1514. While the noble bearing of the officer and the sensitive delineation of the textures is characteristic of portraiture of the period, the small scale of the portrait is uncommon in mid-17th century England, raising the possibility that it is a replica of an unidentified larger-scale portrait.

I really like this painting. The salmon/pink sleeve under the shorter upper sleeve (is that a buff coat under the armour?) is an unusual combination, and I haven’t seen anything similar except in regard to the colour, which reminds me of the pink silk shirt on Dobson’s unidentified naval officer at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. No obvious artist names jump out at me though,  and sadly there are no hints around the sitter to offer any guess at his identity, but from the fashion,  could we tentatively add a few years to the estimated date and suggest he is a Royalist officer…?

I’d never heard of the The Heckscher Museum, but it looks like one that would be worth a visit if you’re in the neighbourhood, especially as they offer visitors and supporters a great way of helping conserve the collection. By adopting a work of art you can help pay for repairs or other necessities, such as in this case, damage to the frame. What a brilliant idea! If I had $2,550 spare I’d definitely be adopting this one!

Picture of the Day

Edward Montague, 2nd Earl of Manchester (1602-1671)
Painted c. 1640, British School

 Edward Montagu
©The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology

Edward Montague succeeded his father as Earl of Manchester in 1642 and commanded the Puritan forces at the Battle of Marston Moor in 1644. He is shown in his late thirties or early forties, wearing a breastplate, and therefore presumably before his resignation in 1645.

For forther information:

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