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Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1646–1723

Henry Portman Seymour

Oil on canvas
49 x 39 inches (124.5 x 99.1 cm)

Signed and dated in black paint, lower left: "G. Kneller | 1714"

Inscribed in ocher paint, lower left: "Henry Portman | Seymour"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
armor | army | camp (temporary settlement) | gloves | hat | man | military art | military camp | portrait | smoke | tent | walking sticks | white | wig
Associated People:
Seymour, Henry Portman (?-1728)
Not on view
IIIF Manifest:

The German-born Sir Godfrey Kneller was the most prolific and influential artist in Britain from his arrival in London in 1676 until his death nearly fifty years later. This characteristic portrait represents Henry Portman, a Tory member of Parliament, and was probably painted to celebrate his marriage in 1714 to Meliora Fitch, the wealthy daughter of a neighboring squire in Dorset. Portman was then seventy-seven, Fitch just fourteen. The mismatch attracted sardonic comment, which perhaps explains why Portman wears armor and stands in a military camp. These imply his continued vigor, despite his advanced years, as well as being symbolic of virtue and public service.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016

Romance in Steel: The Heritage of Armor (Higgins Armory Museum, 2001-01-02 - 2001-06-03) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

British Art at Yale, Apollo, v.105, April 1977, p. 240, fig. 7, N1 .A54 + OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Malcolm Cormack, Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 134-135, N590.2 A83 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Ellis Waterhouse, An Impressive Panorama of British Portraiture, Apollo, v. 105, no. 182, April 1977, p. 240, fig. 7, N1 A54 + (YCBA) Another copy of this article may be found in a separately bound and catalogued copy of this issue located on the Mellon Shelf [call number : N5220 M552 A7 1977 + (YCBA)] [YCBA]

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