August 8, 2017
John Faber, Portrait of Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1735, mezzotint, 18 1/8 x 12 3/16 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchase/gift of the Mahonri M. Young Estate, 1959.
On this day in 1646, British court painter Sir Godfrey Kneller was born in Lübeck, Germany. After settling in England, Kneller became the lead portraitist of the late 17th and early 18th centuries. A student of Rembrandt, Kneller quickly established himself at court and became the most dominant society painter from the reigns of Charles II to George I. Arrogant in his skill, and focused on what he was best at, Kneller concentrated almost exclusively on portraiture. Made a baronet by King George I, Kneller’s legacy rests on his alluring portraits of the British elite.
This portrait of Kneller by his contemporary John Faber, shows Kneller’s distinct aristocratic air. Faber, who worked with Kneller, went on to produce many portraits and his artworks mark the transition in style from Kneller to the more casual Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough.