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This dramatic portrait

probably represents William Lee of Totteridge Park, near Barnet. At the time it was painted Lee would have been around thirteen years old. It is among John Vanderbank’s latest works, showing his characteristic use of brilliant colour and the stylistic influence of Rubens and van Dyck. In addition to his prominence as a painter, Vanderbank played an important role in the formation of an art academy

in St Martin’s Lane during the 1720s. His career was, however, blighted by debt and drunkenness.

February 2010