Sir Godfrey Kneller
"Portrait of Francis, 2nd Earl Godolphin"
oil on canvas
initialed lower right, two old auction stencils en verso stretcher.
Presented in a carved wood frame.
30" x 25-1/2", framed 38" x 33"
Provenance: Collection of Godolphin's tutor John Evelyn, thence by descent; Christie's, London, November 3, 1972, lot 233; La Salle University Art Museum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Sotheby's, London, April 3, 1996, lot 35; Collection of James Harris, PhD, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Exhibited: Oklahoma City Art Museum "Age of Opulence", 1998/9
Notes: The 2nd Earl of Godolphin was the only son of Sidney Godolphin and followed his father into politics, holding a range of public appointments, including acting as a member of parliament for East Looe, Helston, Oxford, and Tregony. Under George II, he variously held the positions of Privy Councillor, Lord of the Bedchamber, and Lord Privy Seal. He married Henrietta Churchill (later 2nd Duchess of Marlborough), by whom he had five children.
This painting of Francis, 2nd Earl of Godolphin is a slight variant of the "Kit-Kat" portrait by Kneller now conserved at the National Portrait Gallery, London. The series of "Kit-Kat" portraits were commissioned by the influential London club to depict its most distinguished members. Originally meant to hang in the club's London location, these three-quarter-length works, all measuring 36" x 28", are presently dispersed in several prominent English collections. A full-length portrait of the 2nd Earl, also by Kneller, now hangs in the private rooms at Blenheim Castle, the Marlborough Estate.
Sir Godfrey Kneller was one of the most successful, sought-after portrait painters in 18th-century England, and held the post of official court painter until his death.
Reference:Piper, David. Catalogue of the Seventeenth Century Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery. Cambridge: University Press, 1963.
In overall very good condition. Scattered abrasions/accretions at lower portion. A few pinprick-sized
losses at lower center. Evidence of past restoration: small areas of mostly filler inpainting along top
hairline, proper left corner of mouth, upper left edge, center of brows, mid-right in background, white cloth
at stomach, line under chin, scattered small other areas. Difficult for UV light to completely penetrate
varnish layer. Restretched with no visible indication of relining - not examined out of frame. Faint
craquelure. Faint layer of soiling.