Formerly attributed to Godfrey Kneller, this work was reattributed to Johan van Diest by art historian John Ingamells in his catalogue of National Portrait Gallery works 'Later Stuart Portraits, 1685-1714' (2010).
This painting was presented to the National Portrait Gallery in London by historian Philip Henry Stanhope, fifth Earl Stanhope (1805-1875), then a Chairman of the Gallery’s Trustees. However, in 1870, the fifth Earl offered the Gallery an alternative portrait: van Diest’s portrait of Stanhope in armour, which the trustees accepted, and this portrait was duly returned to the family. In 1940 the painting was presented to the Government collection by the seventh Earl Stanhope, who also bequeathed the family seat of Chevening (now official residence of the Foreign Secretary) to the Nation.
Johan van Diest was the son of London-based Dutch landscape painter Adriaen van Diest (1655-1704) and was probably a pupil of Sir Godfrey Kneller, whose work he copied. Army officer and road builder General George Wade (1673-1748) commissioned van Diest to paint several works, including ‘The Wise Men’s Offerings’ (c.1725; now destroyed), part of an elaborate altarpiece which Wade presented to Bath Abbey; portraits of Bath Councillors (commissioned 1728; seven now in the Council Chamber of the Guildhall, Bath) and a full-length portrait of Wade (1731; Council Chamber of the Guildhall, Bath). Despite numerous Bath commissions, van Diest remained London-based and produced decorative work for the London home of poet Alexander Pope (1688-1744).
James Stanhope, 1st Earl Stanhope (1673-1721) army officer, diplomat and politician
Oil on canvas
height: 128.50 cm, width: 104.50 cm
Presented by Lord Stanhope, October 1940
Collection of historian Philip Henry Stanhope, 5th Earl Stanhope (1805-1875) of Chevening House, Kent; by whom presented to the National Portrait Gallery, London, in March 1857, as by Sir Godfrey Kneller; the fifth Earl exchanged the work for an alternative portrait of the same sitter (Ref: NPG 6) in 1870; collection of the 5th Earl Stanhope; by descent to James Richard Stanhope, 13th Earl of Chesterfield and 7th Earl Stanhope (1880-1967); by whom presented to the Office of Works in October 1940
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