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”.

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John Greenhill

We’ve all heard of Sir Peter Lely, celebrated court painter to Charles II, and one of the most famous artists of the 17th century, but who has heard of his pupil, John Greenhill? I hadn’t, but after a little research I think he’s worthy of a discussion.

Here he is, in a self-portrait from late 1660s/early 1670s.

John Greenhill self portrait

Born in Salisbury sometime in the 1640s – source dates differ from 1642 to 1649 – he was the eldest son of John Greenhill, the registrar of the diocese of Salisbury, and Penelope Champneys of Orchardleigh, Somerset. Through his paternal uncles he was connected to the East India trade.

Greenhill came to London in around 1662 and began work as Lely’s pupil. He is said to have been a fast and talented student, learning much of Lely’s style and skill, with one commentator claiming his copy of Van Dyck’s portrait of “Thomas Killigrew and his dog” was so good it was hard to distinguish from the original, making his master jealous.

Although he began his career with such promise, and took a wife, the talented painter became very fond of the theatre, poetry and dramatic entertainment, gaining him a reputation for ‘irregular habits’. He died tragically young,  either in his late 20s or early 30s, after stumbling home drunk from the theatre. Falling into the gutter he was helped home, but did not survive the night.

I can’t help noticing that Greenhill’s life holds a curious parallel with that of his predecessor some 20 years before. As court painter to the previous king, William Dobson was said to have had similiarly ‘dissolute’ habits while enjoying a privileged lifestyle in Oxford, and would also die young after returning to London, his true potential lost.

Greenhill’s artistic style shows the clear training and influence of Sir Peter, and one can see how, had he lived longer and developed his art further, he could certainly have approached his master’s quality.

Here are some more of his works:

Seth_Ward_by_John_Greenhill
Seth Ward, Bishop of Exeter and Salisbury, c. 1673/4, © The Royal Society

 

Greenhill, John, c.1649-1676; John Clements (d.1705)

John Clements, 1673, ©National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

 

Greenhill, John, c.1649-1676; Portrait of a Lady as a Shepherdess
Portrait of a Lady as a Shepherdess, c. 1665, ©Dulwich Picture Gallery

 

Greenhill, John, c.1649-1676; James II (1633-1701), as Duke of York
James II as Duke of York, c. 1660, ©Dulwich Picture Gallery

 

Henry Fermor
Henry Fermor, date and location unknown

 

1676-lady-twisden-by-john_med
Lady Twisden, 1676, (pastel)  ©British Museum

Anne Killigrew: artist, poet, courtier

Amid the turbulence and instability of much of the seventeenth century, there was still room for education and culture to flourish, and women in particular were proving they could be just as skilled and talented as men, even if opportunity or gender bias meant that these talents were often left unrealised.

History has left us the names of several woman from this time who defied conventions and became poets, artists, writers, philosophers  or scientists. One such remarkable lady was Anne Killigrew, a member of a large and successful noble family that was close to the royal courts of Charles I and Charles II.

In the below portrait by Peter Lely, Anne is portrayed while painting,  in what is believed to be the only such-themed portrait by Sir Peter, as well as a rare depiction of a female artist at work. The picture and its significance are described in greater detail by the current holders Philip Mould & Co.

anne-killigrew
Portrait of a Lady, traditionally identified as Anne Killigrew (1660-85)

Although remembered more for her poetry, of which a collection was published after her death, she was also a skilled painter and portraitist. A self-portrait hangs at Berkeley Castle, and although I have been unable to find an image of it online, here is a mezzotint said to be based on the original:

anne-killigrew-self-portrait

Only a handful of her paintings are known to survive today, including this, of James II, now part of the Royal Collection.

james-ii-by-ak

Sadly, Anne died of smallpox at around 25 years old, yet another talent cut off too soon. If her poetry and portraits are examples of what she achieved in those short years, we can only imagine what  she might have produced had she had more time.  We do not know  where she gained her skills in painting, or who, if anyone, instructed her, but being so close to the royal court she would have had easy access to the great works in that collection, works by almost an entirety of celebrated male artists, and I think her own paintings stand up well against them. Not as the paintings of a woman, but as an artist the equal, in my view, of many of those men that came before.

 

Lely discovery at Philip Mould & Co

An exciting find announced today by the art experts at Philip Mould’s in London.  This striking portrait was previously without an attribution for sitter or painter, but has now been identified as a work of Sir Peter Lely.

Lely-Lord-Kensington-MN827-THUMB
                 Henry Rich, Lord Kensington (1642-1659), c.1657

Read the full story on their website here…Philip Mould & Co

If you’re a lover of portraiture, I highly recommend subscribing to their email updates for similiar stories and information on exhibitions and sales.

John Hayls

John Hayls is perhaps best known for his portrait of Samuel Pepys, and although he was said to be a contemporary and rival of Peter Lely and Samuel Cooper in the 1650s and 60s, a number of paintings from the 1640s war years have been tentatively attributed to him. He is mentioned in Pepys’ diary and was active up to and through the Restoration, but I’ve not found anything about his activities or movements during the Civil War.

The scant information available to us says that he was born in 1600, painted a portrait of Samuel Pepys’ wife in 1665/6, and died suddenly in London in 1679.* I love a good mystery, especially one involving art, so I’m going to start researching Hayls and see what I can find.  I’ve come across a number of paintings merely attributed to Hayls, and very few that are certainly named as his, which complicates any attempt to study his technique and gain a clear recognition of his works, but I did discover this fascinating portrait of Charles Needham, 4th Viscount Kilmoray.

Kilmorey

I found the image on an auction site, so sadly there’s no way of knowing where it is now.  I’d hazard a guess it was painted in the latter part of the 1640s, but that can only be a guess as there are too few confirmed works to give a timeline of his artistic development during this period. The more I look at this the more I like it. The pose is unusual, very different from the familiar front-facing stance with one hand on a sword hilt, and I’d like to get a better look at the blackness by his raised left hand. Could better light show more detail of the background, or does it just need a really good clean? There must be some information on it somewhere, particularly the provenance, so if any readers can help me fill in a little more detail I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

 

*Cust, Lionel Henry (1891). “Hayls, John”. In Stephen, Leslie; Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography 25. London: Smith, Elder & Co.

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