Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of James 1st Earl Stanhope (1673-1721) 1718c.

Johann Van Diest 

Portrait of James 1st Earl Stanhope (1673-1721), Johann Van Diest
Oil on canvas
18th Century
30x25in 76.2 x 63.5cm
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This portrait of the celebrated general and diplomat, James first Earl Stanhope, is an autograph version of Johan van Diest's composition of c.1718, a three-quarter length variation on which, with a turned pose and martial costume, is in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery (NPG 6).

Described as ''a handsome dark-complexioned man'' we see how in comparison with the Kneller portrait of c.1705 (NPG 3225) age and experience have combined to suggest character. Van Diest is seldom appreciated sufficiently by critics who have considered his style a rather wooden recollection of that of Kneller, his putative master. In this work, however, we see him as an artist quite as accomplished in the presentation of character and in the technical execution of painting as the majority of his contemporaries. It may well be that Van Diest responded well to military sitters, since this portrait and his later portrait of the famous General Wade (examples at the National Portrait Gallery NPG1539 and with Historical Portraits) are important and accomplished works of a conspicuously higher standard than the mass of his oeuvre.
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