Sir Geoffrey Palmer, 1st Baronet (1598-1670) Attorney-General 1660-70
About the work
This engraved portrait of the former Attorney-General Sir Geoffrey Palmer made, as the inscription indicates, during the reign of Charles II, shows the sitter within an oval, above which is a decorative ribbon design and below which is lettering and a coat of arms.
Lawyer and politician Geoffrey Palmer was called to the bar in 1623 but later left his career in conveyancing for high law and politics. Palmer was twice committed to the Tower: once after causing uproar in the House of Commons by protesting against the Remonstrance of 1641 (Parliament’s list of grievances against Charles I’s policies) and again after his capture following the Siege of Oxford (1644-46). Palmer prospered as a result of the Restoration, being knighted, made Attorney-General and created a baronet in 1660.
About the artist
Robert White was born in London and was apprenticed to line engraver David Loggan. White engraved numerous plates between 1666 and 1702, mostly portrait line engravings commissioned as frontispieces for books. These were usually engraved from his own drawings on vellum, sketched from life. He also engraved book-plates, almanacs, architectural views and processions, publishing some prints from his home in Bloomsbury Market. In 1674 he took on an apprentice, John Stuart. From about 1680 to 1683 he experimented with publishing mezzotint prints. His son, George, was born in about 1684 and followed his father in becoming an engraver. The two worked together until White’s death. Despite earlier success, he died in poverty at about the age of 58.
Peter Lely was born in Westphalia in Germany. He studied in Haarlem under Pieter de Grebber, becoming a Master of the Haarlem Guild in 1637. He relocated to England in 1641, where he succeeded Sir Antony Van Dyck as Principal Painter to Charles II. Lely presided over a large studio and employed several assistants. He frequently painted only the head of the sitter himself, before passing the work to an assistant to complete. The work of his assistants is often mistakenly attributed to Lely himself. He was knighted in 1680, shortly before his death that year. At the time of his death, over 100 canvases remained in his studio, many copies executed by assistants. His assistants also produced independent work in the style of their master.