John Closterman

Portrait of a Gentleman


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On display at Tate Britain

John Closterman 1660–1711
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 2400 x 1486 mm
Lent by a private collector 2005
On long term loan

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The inscription at the bottom shows that the subject of this portrait was once incorrectly identified as the Duke of Marlborough. In fact we do not know the identity of the man standing with his gun in a dramatically-lit woodland. The energy of the portrait shows the influence of Closterman’s recent trip to Madrid and Rome. Closterman was born in Osnabrück, in what is now Germany, in 1660. He arrived in London from Paris around 1681, at first working in partnership with the portraitist John Riley. Later he established an independent practice, becoming one of the leading society portrait painters.

Gallery label, February 2016

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