World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Godfrey Kneller

Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt
Sir Godfrey Kneller - Self portrait
Born Gottfried Kniller
(1646-08-08)8 August 1646
Lübeck, Holy Roman Empire
Died 19 October 1723(1723-10-19) (aged 77)
London, Great Britain
Residence London, England
Nationality German, later British
Occupation Painter
Known for Leading portrait painter of England

Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1st Baronet (born Gottfried Kniller; 8 August 1646 – 19 October 1723) was the leading The Chinese Convert (1687; Royal Collection, London); a series of four portraits of Isaac Newton painted at various junctures of the latter's life; a series of ten reigning European monarchs, including King Louis XIV of France; over 40 "Kit-cat portraits" of members of the Kit-Cat Club; and ten "beauties" of the court of William III, to match a similar series of ten beauties of the court of Charles II painted by his predecessor as court painter, Sir Peter Lely.


  • Life 1
  • Character 2
  • Works 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Sir John Vanbrugh in Kneller's Kit-cat portrait, considered one of Kneller's finest portraits.
Portrait of John Locke

Kneller was born Gottfried Kniller in the Free City of Lübeck, the son of Zacharias Kniller, a portrait painter.[1] Kneller studied in Leiden, but became a pupil of Ferdinand Bol and Rembrandt in Amsterdam. He then traveled with his brother John Zacharias Kneller, who was an ornamental painter, to Rome and Venice in the early 1670s, painting historical subjects and portraits in the studio of Carlo Maratti, and later moved to Hamburg. They came to England in 1676,[2] and won the patronage of the Duke of Monmouth. He was introduced to, and painted a portrait of, Charles II. In England, Kneller concentrated almost entirely on portraiture. He founded a studio which churned out portraits on an almost industrial scale, relying on a brief sketch of the face with details added to a formulaic model, aided by the fashion for gentlemen to wear full wigs. His portraits set a pattern that was followed until William Hogarth and Joshua Reynolds.

Nevertheless, he established himself as a leading portrait artist in England. When

Court offices
Preceded by
Sir Peter Lely
Principal Painter in Ordinary to the King
Succeeded by
William Kent
Baronetage of Great Britain
New creation Baronet
(of Whitton)

External links

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i LCCN 06-23564. pp. 27–28
  2. ^ (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  3. ^
  4. ^ Memorials of Twickenham Parochial and Topographical, R.S. Cobbett, Smith, Elder & Co., London, 1872
  5. ^ Edward Byng at, accessed 24 November 2012
  6. ^ Miss Agnes Voss, daughter of Mrs Voss and Sir Godfrey Kneller, afterwards Mrs Huckle at the Royal Collection.
  7. ^ Deed Poll Office: Private Act of Parliament 1730 (4 Geo. 2). c. 32


See also

In his hometown Lübeck there are works to be seen in the St. Annen Museum and in Saint Catherine Church. His former works at St. Mary's Church were destroyed by the Bombing of Lübeck 1942. A large oil portrait (84" x 55") of James VII of Scotland (King James II of England) hangs on the main staircase of private members' Club, The Caledonian Club, in Belgravia, London.


"As to thinking better or worse of mankind from experience, some cunning people will not be satisfied unless they have put men to the test, as they think. There is a very good story told of Sir Godfrey Kneller, in his character of a Justice of the peace. A gentleman brought his servant before him, upon an accusation of having stolen some money from him; but it having come out that he had laid it purposely in the servant's way, in order to try his honesty, Sir Godfrey sent the master to prison." (Samuel Johnson)


The site of the house Kneller built in 1709 in Whitton, near Twickenham, became occupied by the mid-19th century Kneller Hall, home of the Royal Military School of Music.[1]

Kneller died of fever in 1723 at Great Queen Street and his remains were interred at Twickenham. He had been a churchwarden at St Mary's, Twickenham when the 14th-century nave collapsed in 1713 and was active in the plans for the church's reconstruction by John James.[4] A memorial was erected in Westminster Abbey.[1] Kneller's will gave a pension of £100 a year to his assistant Edward Byng and entrusted Byng with seeing that all unfinished work was completed. Byng also inherited the drawings in Kneller's studio.[5] Most of his fortune was inherited by his grandson, Godfrey Kneller Huckle, who was the son of Agnes Huckle,[1] Kneller's illegitimate daughter by Mrs Voss,[6] and who took his grandfather's surname (Kneller)[7] as a condition of his inheritance. Kneller and his wife had no children together.[1] His widow was buried at Twickenham on 11 December 1729.[1]

He married a widow, Susanna Grave, on 23 January 1704 at St Bride's Church, London.[1] She was the daughter of the Reverend John Cawley, Archdeacon of Lincoln and Rector of Henley-on-Thames, and the granddaughter of regicide William Cawley.[1]

On the landing in Horsham Museum hang works of art from the Museum's extensive painting collection, featuring a large eighteenth-century portrait of Charles Eversfield and his wife of Denne Park House.[3] In the painting Eversfield is giving his wife some violets which signifies fidelity, love and honesty. It is likely that the picture was cut down at some time as it was unusual to stop just below the knee. It may have been painted by more than one person: someone who specialised in clothing, another in drapes, and so on, with perhaps the great court painter Sir Godfrey Kneller painting the heads, for it was the portraits that gave the sitters their identity, everything else is rather formulaic.

. Alexander Pope, and Richard Steele, Joseph Addison, John Dryden luminaries such as Whig amongst its founding directors. His paintings were praised by Thomas Gibson, which counted such artists as London, Great Queen Street 1711-1716 in Kneller Academy of Painting and Drawing he was also head of the [1]

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.