This is one of three similar portraits of Sir John Norris, each by different artists. Two are in the collection of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich: a signed 1711 portrait by Godfrey Kneller and a less flattering portrait by George Napton, which was presented to Greenwich Hospital by the sitter’s granddaughter in 1797. A mezzotint print of 1741, engraved and published by Thomas Burford, may be partly based on Kneller’s portrait and partly on Napton’s. In addition a marble bust of the sitter, made in 1749-50 by sculptor Peter Scheemakers, is at Benenden church in Kent, where Norris was buried.
Thomas Hudson, portrait painter and art collector, was born in Devon. He was a pupil of Jonathan Richardson, whose daughter he married. He worked mostly in the West Country and employed his brother, Alexander (a drapery painter) and Joseph van Aken. He was one of the artists who met at Old Slaughter’s Coffee House in London in the 1740s, (Hogarth, Hayman, Ramsay and Rysbrack were others). In 1748, he travelled to France and the Low Countries with Hogarth, Hayman and van Aken and, in 1752, visited Rome with Roubiliac. Among his distinguished apprentices were Reynolds, Wright of Derby and Mortimer. During the 1740s and 1750s he enjoyed great success but later lost commissions to Reynolds. He retired to Twickenham where he died, aged about 77.
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