John Locke (1632-1704) Philosopher
About the work
Interpretation about this artwork is under review
The Government Art Collection recognises its responsibility to artists, colleagues and all our audiences to represent the diversity of the UK and to embed anti-racist and equitable practices throughout our work. We are taking action to address inequality in the Collection and its interpretation.
This portrait of philosopher John Locke was made after Godfrey Kneller’s original version (Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia), painted in the year of Locke’s death. The original was commissioned by fellow philosopher Anthony Collins, who began an intense friendship with Locke in 1703. Locke treated Collins as his son and intellectual successor and Collins arranged for some of Locke's letters and manuscripts to be published in 1720.
About the artist
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.
- John Locke (1632-1704) Philosopher
- Oil on canvas
- height: 73.00 cm, width: 60.50 cm
- Purchased from Oscar & Peter Johnson, July 1969
- GAC number