Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of John Farewell of Inner Temple 1660c.

Gerard Soest (c.1600-81)

Portrait of John Farewell of Inner Temple, Gerard Soest
Oil on canvas
17th Century
30 x 25 inches 76 x 63.5 cm
Gilbert Soest -reputedly, like Lely, born at Soest in Westphalia- was active in England at least from the late 1640s. This present portrait shows his talent at its best, and is the equal of contemporary works by his more famous countryman. For its intensity and melancholic delicacy of characterisation it may be compared, for example, to the Portrait of a gentleman believed to be Mr Tipping (Tate Gallery), which displays the same elegant treatment of dark draperies.

An early account (Essay towards an English School of Painting by Bainbrigg Buckeridge) praises Soest's male portraits for their ''just, bold Draft'' but remarks that he did not always show ''a due regard to Grace, especially in Women's Faces'' and ''wanted the choicest Notions of Beauty''. Vertue recorded a visit by John Greenhill to Soest's studio in Southampton Buildings, London, towards the end of Soest's life, when he had grown ''out of humor with the public, but particularly with the ladies, which his ruff humour coud never please''. Certainly Soest's portraits of women demonstrate an uncompromising realism, which could never have endeared him as much to his patrons as the sophisticated idealisations and evasions of Lely. He enjoyed little court patronage, but as with this portrait, had some success with the gentry and the professional classes.

The sitter in this portrait is identified by a label verso, and is most probably John Farewell the younger of Hill Bisshops, Somerset, gent, admitted to the Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn 8th February 1659/60.
Philip Mould Ltd, 18-19 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5LU.Copyright Philip Mould Ltd.