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GEORGE KNAPTON, R.A. (1698-1768)

GEORGE KNAPTON, R.A. (1698-1768)


Pastels on paper laid to canvas

55.8 x 40.7 cm



Dr Robert Hemphill, Bristol;

By whom sold, Christie's, London, 12.11.1991, Lot 18;

Private Collection, U.K.



N. Jeffares, Dictionary of Pastellists before 1800, online edition, J.432.172







George Knapton was born to a prosperous country family, and was apprenticed to the painter Jonathan Richardson Sr. in 1715, serving an apprenticeship of 5 years with his master. He travelled around Italy between 1725-1732, returning to Britain to become a portrait painter. From the beginning, he worked in both oils and pastels, though it is the former for which he is best remembered today.

Between 1741-1749, Knapton painted a series of 23 portraits of the members of the Society of Dilettanti, of which he himself was also a member. These portraits were executed in oil, though many of the members had also had their likenesses captured in pastels.


There was, during this period, something of a movement away from pastels by the British aristocracy, with some critics decrying it as a lower form of art, and others concerned by its connotations of Francophilia at a time of war with France. Firmly attributed works in pastel by Knapton are therefore comparatively scarce, with the present portrait an outstanding example of his work in the medium.


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