John Riley, born in London, was justly described by Horace Walpole as one of the best native painters who had then flourished in England. However, his talents have been somewhat obscured by the fame of Kneller. Charles II sat for Riley (his three-quarter length portrait is now in the Bodleian Library, Oxford) and, in 1689, Riley was jointly appointed ‘Principal Painter’ to William III and Queen Mary, with Kneller. Riley's pupils included Anthony Russell, Edward Gouge, Thomas Murray and Jonathan Richardson Riley the elder. He died in London and was buried in Bishopsgate Church in the City.
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