British School 17th century, attributed to John Greenhill
Portrait of Richard Colman c.1662

Artwork details

Attributed to John Greenhill 1642–1676
Portrait of Richard Colman
Date c.1662
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 704 x 590 mm
Acquisition Presented by Mrs Gilbert Cousland 1996 to celebrate the Tate Gallery Centenary 1997
Not on display


This comes from an interesting group of Colman, Barnardiston, Ranby and other family portraits which were formerly at Brent Eleigh Hall, in Suffolk. The antiquarian Rev. Edmund Farrer viewed the whole group there in 1903, shortly after which they were partially dispersed. This portrait, together with others thought to depict the sitter's kinsman Robert Colman and Robert's wife Dionesse (Tate T07240 and T07241) continued to descend in the Brown family, until they were presented to the Tate Gallery in 1997.

A partly erased inscription identifies the sitter as Richard Colman, and Farrer indicates that it originally continued 'Councell at Law. 1662.' According to his monument in St Mary's Church, Brent Eleigh, Richard was the heir of Sir Edward Colman and his wife Dyonise. He may have resided at Salisbury, where, again according to his monument, he died on 13 October 1672 at the age of forty, although surviving family papers include one document addressed to him at his chamber in Lincoln's Inn in 1670. This Inn of Court, for practising lawyers, is in London.

A further inscription on this portrait reads: '[F]. Vandijks'. This may have been added later to suggest, anachronistically, that it was painted by the celebrated artist to the court of Charles I, Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599-1643). There was also a Dutch portraitist called Abraham van Dyck (circa 1635-72) who is thought to have worked briefly in England, but Dr Rudi Ekkart of the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie confirms that the present portrait is not consistent with his style. Because of the link with the city of Salisbury, it has also been proposed that it might have been painted by the Salisbury-born English artist John Greenhill, but the handling of the paint does not convincingly bear this out.

Presumably originally rectangular, this work, painted on canvas, was cut down to its present oval shape at some time before 1903, possibly to match other oval-framed portraits in the Brent Eleigh collection.

Further Reading
Rev. Edmund Farrer, Portraits in Suffolk Houses (West), London, 1908, p.45, no.7; reproduced facing p.44.
G. Gery Milner-Gibson-Cullum, Genealogical Notes Relating to the Family of Cullum, London, 1928, p.21.

Karen Hearn
November 2000