This ceremonial full-length portrait of King James II is believed to be from the school of the great portrait painter Sir Godfrey Kneller. The younger brother of Charles II, James succeeded to the throne in 1685. He is depicted here in a baroque, almost theatrical setting, against a heavy, dark red drapery, adding grandeur to the composition. The sitter is standing in Garter robes, with a pendant on his chest showing St George Slaying the Dragon, and a velvet mantle covering his shoulders. There are two full-length portraits of James II by Sir Godfrey Kneller, one in which the sitter is dressed in armour (National Portrait Gallery, London), and one in the official dress (Guyzance Hall). It appears that the portrait featured here derives from Kneller’s latter version.
Godfrey Kneller was born in Lübeck, Germany. He moved to Amsterdam in 1662 to study painting under Rembrandt van Rijn and Ferdinand Bol. He later trained with Gianlorenzo Bernini and Carlo Maratta in Rome. After returning to Lübeck in 1675, he moved to Hamburg and then to London to study the works of Sir Anthony van Dyck. In England he received commissions from prominent figures, including Charles II. In 1684, Charles sent him to France to paint the portrait of Louis XIV. Kneller maintained his position at court after the accession of James II in 1685 and, when William and Mary came to the throne, Kneller and portraitist John Riley became joint Principal Painters to the Crown. Following Riley’s death, Kneller alone retained the position.
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.