This painting was purchased by former Government Art Collection curator Richard Walker, from Christie’s, London, on 16 May 1952 (Lot 68). It was sold from the collection of Conservative politician George Petty-Fitzmaurice, eighth Marquess of Lansdowne (1912-1997).
The primary version, reproduced in the 1875 publication ‘Annals and correspondence of the Viscount and the first and second Earls of Stair’, was then at Oxenfoord Castle and may be the portrait of Stair now at Dumfries House (built for William Dalrymple, fifth Earl of Dumfries between 1754 and 1759).
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.
John Dalrymple, 2nd Earl of Stair (1673-1747) Field Marshal and diplomat
Oil on canvas
height: 124.50 cm, width: 101.50 cm
Purchased from Christie's, 16 May 1952
Collection of politician George John Charles Mercer Nairne Petty-Fitzmaurice, 8th Marquess of Lansdowne (1912-1997); by whom sold through Christie’s, London, on 16 May 1952 (Lot 68); from which sale purchased by Richard Walker on behalf of the Ministry of Works
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