Completed Portraits: British 16th and 17th C 16 Could this work of William III be by Kneller and not just 'studio of'?

GLW_SALG_PCF_45
Topic: Artist

Could this work of William III be by Kneller and not just 'studio of'?

Abdu Fara, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

Alice Read,

The attribution of this work has now been amended to:
British (English) School

This change will appear on the Your Paintings website by the end of February 2015. Thank you to all for participating in this discussion. To those viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all comments that led to this conclusion.

15 comments

Martin Hopkinson,

This is surely a copy . It lacks the quality of Kneller's originals. There was a very big demand on his studio to turn out portraits of William III for public institutions and leading supporters of his government. The variants reflect the wide range of ability of the artists who worked for him and after his designs. I do not think that the identity of these individuals can be established without documentary support

R. Stephens,

It is definitely not by Kneller, nor his studio. In the years immediately after William's accession, hundreds of portraits of him were knocked out for quick sale in London - I have counted more than 370 offered in the 4 yrs 1689-92 alone. Many of these were copies after Wissing and Kneller. Your painting appears to be modelled on a full-length portrait (a version of which is in Deal Town Hall, according to Your Paintings, which says it is by Wissing), but with the head turned the other way, probably after a mezzotint bust-length portrait after Kneller (like the one here: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1661544&partId=1&searchText=Kneller+William+III&images=true&page=1 ). You can see how much flatter your picture is than the Deal version, for example in the ermine cloak and the white cloth covering the fore arm. There is another example of your portrait type in the government art collection (see here: http://www.gac.culture.gov.uk/work.aspx?obj=25292 ), it could even be by the same guy or perhaps group of men working together.

R. Stephens,

I should add that, as your painting is the mirror image of the Deal full-length, presumably it also is based on a print after (the prime version of) the Deal portrait. But I cannot find a copy of such a print.

Martin Hopkinson,

The style certainly seems to be closer to the portraits associated with the name of Wissing rather than with Kneller, but as Richard Stephens suggests there was mass production of portraits of the King at the beginning of his reign, and without documents it is impossible to attribute it to any individual artist or even workshop of artists. It is way below the quality of a product of even the studio of Wissing or Kneller

Al Brown,

So, without a model by either Kneller or Wissing, proved through the existence of a firmly attributed painting or print after, the best option for the moment would be to give both versions to British (English) School?

Martin Hopkinson,

Strictly speaking Kneller was German and Wissing Dutch and there were French and Flemish portraitists working in England at this period as well, but your attribution is likely to be best

Alice Read,

Would the collection like me to amend the artist to British (English) School and add (copy after Godfrey Kneller)?

Martin Hopkinson,

I don't think that one can say that is a copy after Kneller

I think we can probably summarise this discussion for the moment. In answer to the institution's first question, the answer is alas 'no', this isn't by Kneller, and nor his studio. And in the absence of any other plausible names of artists such as Van Stampart (who I don't think this is by either) who were producing generic portraits of William based on the head types by the likes of Kneller or Wissing, then for now we must wave the attributional white flag and stick with just 'English School'. That said, the technique is reasonably distinctive, so one to keep in mind...

Alice Read,

Thank you – I have contacted the collection and await their response.

Alice Read,

The collection has commented with the following through email:

"William III picture (50’’ x40’’) – ‘There appears to be no record of how the Corporation became possessed of this picture, or by whom it was painted.’"

Alice Read,

The attribution of this work has now been amended to:
British (English) School

This change will appear on the Your Paintings website by the end of February 2015. Thank you to all for participating in this discussion. To those viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all comments that led to this conclusion.