Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723) Architect

  • About the work
    Architect Sir Christopher Wren is depicted in this half-length portrait in a velvet jacket and neck scarf. In 1707, Queen Anne granted the Duchess of Marlborough the lease of a property adjacent to St James’s Palace. As Sir John Vanbrugh was busy with the building of Blenheim Palace and his work did not meet with the approval of Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, the Duchess selected Sir Christopher Wren as architect for the Marlborough’s new town house, proposed for the St. James’s Park site. The building was constructed between 1709 and 1711.
  • About the artist
    John Smith I was a mezzotint engraver and printseller. He collaborated with the print maker Isaac Beckett in the mid 1680s and set himself up as a printseller towards the end of the 17th century. He made prints for both private commissions and public sale and also retouched plates by other engravers. Many of his prints are portraits after the work of his friend Godfrey Kneller. He also produced prints of religious subjects, scenes of classical mythology and landscapes after both Old Masters and contemporary painters.
    Godfrey Kneller was born in Lübeck, Germany. He moved to Amsterdam in 1662 to study painting under Rembrandt and Ferdinand Bol. He later trained with Gianlorenzo Bernini and Carlo Maratta in Rome. He returned to Lübeck in 1675, before moving to Hamburg and then to London to study the works of van Dyck. In England he received commissions from prominent figures, including Charles II. Charles sent Kneller to France in 1684, 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, he and portraitist John Riley became joint Principal Painters to the Crown. Following Riley’s death, Kneller alone retained the position. He was 77 when he died.
  • Explore
    People
    Wren, Sir Christopher
    Places
    Materials & Techniques
    mezzotint
  • Details
    Title
    Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723) Architect
    Date
    after 1711
    Medium
    Mezzotint
    Acquisition
    Purchased from Colnaghi, May 1949
    GAC number
    767