Godfrey Kneller

Portrait of John Locke

Portrait of John Locke
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: Godfrey Kneller
Portraiture, Painting, Oil on canvas, 76x64 cm
Origin: Britain, 1697

Portraits of Britain's scientific and artistic elite made up the best of the work of Sir Godfrey Kneller, active in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The artist was very successful in conveying the importance of the individual, particularly those who contributed so much to the development of mankind and knowledge of the world. John Locke was an outstanding philosopher. He is seen here in the last years of his life, at a time when he had removed himself from society and settled on the country estate of some friends, associating only with a very close circle. According to Locke himself, he devoted all his time to the study of those questions which concerned him most.

There is nothing official in this portrait, with its neutral ground and dark colours, the sitter wearing only modest attire, his face, hair and white collar picked out by light. Yet despite this intimacy and informality, we have a full sense of the importance and weight of the sitter's character.

Style: Baroque
Source of entry: Collection of Sir Robert Walpole, Houghton Hall, 1779

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