Lowell Libson & Jonny Yarker Ltd

  • Black chalk on blue paper
  • 14 ⅝ × 11 ½ inches · 371 × 293 mm
  • Inscribed bottom right: ‘G Kneller’
    Drawn c. 1715-20


  • William Drummond to 2016 

This bold and immediate head study was made by the most prolific and successful painter of the early eighteenth century, Godfrey Kneller. 

Kneller was born in Lübeck in Germany and came to Britain, according to his early biographer, Marshall Smith, after time spent studying in Italy: ‘longing to see Sir Anthony Van Dyck’s Works, being most ambitious of imitating that great Master, he therefore at length came into England.’ By 1700 Kneller had achieved an unassailable position as the most successful painter in London. He was Principal Painter to William III and Queen Mary and was knighted in 1692, royal favour was further underlined by his appointment as a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber and by the gift of a sword.  Perhaps at the King’s insistence, Kneller received an honorary doctorate from the University of Oxford in 1695 and four years later William III gave him a large gold medal with the royal image and a gold chain, similar to those presented to Van Dyck by Charles I.