Show me:
and
Clear all filters

  • 25 items Explore
  • 35 items
  • 25 items Explore
  • 48 items
  • 89 items
  • 3,445 items Explore
  • 97 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 4 items
  • 42 items
  • 11,193 items Explore
  • 209 items Explore
  • 1,235 items Explore
  • 8,505 items Explore
  • 5,049 items Explore
  • 72 items Explore
  • 167 items Explore
  • 10,621 items Explore
  • 13,625 items Explore
  • 4,646 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 5 items
  • 153 items Explore
  • 2,038 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 4,758 items Explore
  • 24 items Explore
  • 437 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 19,205 items Explore
  • 34 items Explore
  • 1,027 items Explore
  • 1,113 items Explore
  • 6 items
  • 2,396 items Explore
  • 456 items Explore
  • 29 items
  • 920 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 1 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 7 items
  • 19,416 items Explore
  • 791 items Explore
  • 19 items
  • 73 items Explore
  • 33 items
  • 800 items
  • 25 items
  • 61 items
  • 28 items
  • 319 items Explore
  • 6 items
  • 44 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 2 items
  • 145 items
  • 2 items
  • 9 items
  • 121 items Explore
  • 119 items
  • 1 items
  • 1,021 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 800 items
  • 95 items
  • 27 items
  • 108 items
  • 28,118 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 3,837 items Explore
  • 1,521 items Explore
  • 403 items
  • 158 items Explore
  • 9,743 items Explore
  • 9,685 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 1 items
  • 39 items
  • 3 items
  • 4 items
  • 5,138 items Explore
  • 7,443 items Explore
  • 4,433 items Explore
  • 1,536 items Explore
  • 930 items Explore
  • 3,493 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 334 items
  • 1 items
  • 1 items
  • 3,444 items Explore
  • 20 items Explore
  • 354 items Explore
  • 797 items Explore
  • 1,095 items Explore
  • 510 items Explore
  • 1,047 items Explore
  • 1,138 items
  • 89 items
  • 125 items Explore
  • 6,953 items Explore
  • 170 items
  • 310 items
  • 4 items
  • 20 items
  • 61 items
  • 304 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 2,923 items Explore
  • 1,575 items Explore
  • 203 items
  • 43 items
  • 19,430 items Explore
  • 1,242 items Explore
  • 138 items
  • 843 items Explore
  • 32 items
  • 1 items
  • 132 items Explore
  • 24 items
  • 40 items
  • 20 items
  • 252 items
  • 314 items
  • 747 items Explore
  • 1,897 items
  • 349 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 2,426 items
  • 2,525 items
  • 3 items
  • 3 items
  • 1 items
  • 4,390 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 34,642 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 3,285 items Explore
  • 274 items Explore
  • 8,067 items Explore
  • 31 items
  • 25 items
  • 732 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 65 items
  • 161 items
  • 52 items
  • 21,728 items Explore
  • 916 items
  • 18 items
  • 22,118 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 2,333 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 1,052 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 59 items
  • 499 items
  • 3,289 items Explore
  • 175 items
  • 453 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 21 items
  • 90 items Explore
  • 76 items
  • 281 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 6 items
  • 128 items
  • 293 items
  • 736 items
  • 868 items
  • 1 items
  • 369 items Explore
  • 272 items Explore
  • 11,301 items Explore
  • 760 items Explore
  • 6,029 items Explore
  • 11 items
  • 7,404 items Explore
  • 27 items
  • 5,360 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 3,732 items Explore
  • 9,201 items Explore
  • 7,745 items Explore
  • 200 items
  • 19 items
  • 142 items
  • 7 items
  • 1,024 items Explore
  • 19 items
  • 4,169 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 1,096 items Explore
  • 223 items
  • 1 items
  • 3,495 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 20 items
  • 696 items Explore
  • 18 items
  • 134 items
  • 6,652 items Explore
  • 14,231 items Explore
  • 3,127 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 8 items
  • 9,317 items Explore
  • 37 items
  • 2 items
  • 21,320 items Explore
  • 131 items
  • 38 items
  • 13,167 items Explore
  • 3,382 items Explore
  • 2,306 items Explore
  • 44 items
  • 41,415 items Explore
  • 637 items Explore
  • 415 items
  • 23,271 items Explore
  • 218 items
  • 3 items
  • 1 items
  • 20 items
  • 27 items
  • 300 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 217 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 13,208 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 10,261 items
  • 9 items
  • 10 items
  • 14 items
  • 25 items
  • 1 items
  • 4,535 items Explore
  • 918 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 39 items
  • 1 items
  • 1 items
  • 220 items
  • 702 items Explore
  • 42 items
  • 2,284 items Explore
  • 1,662 items Explore
  • 15 items
  • 1,928 items Explore
  • 151 items
  • 84 items
  • 772 items Explore
  • 3,310 items Explore
  • 41 items
  • 17 items
  • 12 items
  • 10,655 items Explore
  • 23,089 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 1,374 items
  • 180 items Explore
  • 8 items
  • 92 items
  • 13,323 items Explore
  • 3,572 items Explore
  • 2,652 items Explore
  • 4,776 items Explore
  • 22 items
  • 45 items
  • 6,899 items Explore
  • 4,796 items Explore
  • 272 items Explore
  • 2,300 items Explore
  • 2,922 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 1,862 items Explore
  • 291 items
  • 223 items Explore
  • 448 items Explore
  • 6,120 items Explore
  • 8,818 items Explore
  • 1,859 items Explore
  • 5,793 items Explore
  • 3,339 items Explore
  • 11,046 items Explore
  • 86 items
  • 11 items
  • 1,645 items Explore
  • 7 items
  • 24 items
  • 51 items
  • 5 items
  • 1 items
  • 2,906 items Explore
  • 620 items Explore
  • 62 items
  • 17 items
  • 151 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 87 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 463 items
  • 996 items Explore
  • 3,604 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 9,402 items Explore
  • 48 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 42 items
  • 3 items
  • 13,714 items Explore
  • 1,169 items Explore
  • 92 items
  • 10,566 items Explore
  • 1,005 items Explore
  • 1,924 items
  • 7,133 items Explore
  • 21 items
  • 12,940 items Explore
  • 1,418 items Explore
  • 6 items
  • 9,584 items Explore
  • 16,318 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 1,668 items Explore
  • 175 items
  • 58 items
  • 5,684 items Explore
  • 8,787 items Explore
  • 48 items
  • 25 items
  • 2 items
  • 59 items
  • 3 items
  • 7,382 items Explore
  • 402 items Explore
  • 13 items
  • 4 items
  • 1 items
  • 6 items
  • 4 items
  • 103 items Explore
  • 7 items
  • 5 items
  • 480 items
  • 299 items Explore
  • 8,365 items Explore
  • 55 items
  • 22,942 items Explore
  • 7,350 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 26 items
  • 3,829 items Explore
  • 464 items
  • 5 items
  • 339 items Explore
  • 12,691 items Explore
  • 55 items
  • 20 items
  • 7 items
  • 4 items
  • 315 items Explore
  • 434 items
  • 183 items
  • 3,692 items Explore
  • 27 items
  • 1,228 items Explore
  • 2,494 items Explore
  • 732 items Explore
  • 36 items
  • 1,135 items Explore
  • 97 items Explore
  • 42 items
  • 217 items Explore
  • 73,620 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 3,065 items Explore
  • 2,845 items Explore
  • 39 items
  • 3,615 items Explore
  • 1,832 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 17,324 items Explore
  • 5,508 items Explore
  • 7 items
  • 633 items Explore
  • 85 items
  • 1 items
  • 468 items
  • 39 items
  • 76 items
  • 29 items
  • 335 items
  • 3 items
  • 41 items
  • 1,176 items Explore
  • 109 items
  • 805 items
  • 17 items
  • 11,073 items Explore
  • 27 items
  • 13 items
  • 1,546 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 214 items
  • 16,819 items Explore
  • 85 items
  • 17 items
  • 1 items
  • 9 items
  • 8 items
  • 324 items
  • 2 items
  • 626 items Explore
  • 1,587 items Explore
  • 8 items
  • 1,035 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 261 items

Select a time period

Or choose a specific year

Clear all filters

Self-portrait

William Dobson (London 1611 – London 1646)

Category

Art / Oil paintings

Date

circa 1645 - 1646

Materials

Oil on canvas (oval)

Measurements

597 x 457 mm (23 1/2 x 18 in)

Place of origin

London

Order this image

Collection

Osterley Park and House, London (Accredited Museum)

NT 773374

Summary

Oil painting on canvas (oval), Self-portrait by William Dobson (1611–1646). A head-and-shoulders portrait, wearing a black doublet and white collar.The carved auricular frame, crested with the sunflower motif, is made to the same design as that used for Van Dyck's last self-portrait. Both were owned by Dobson's first biographer, Richard Graham, and were sold as pair in his sale on 6 March 1712, when they were both bough by 'Mr Child'. The Van Dyck painting is now in the National Portrait Gallery.

Full description

This insightful self-portrait, painted around 1645, although quite simple in conception, is one of the finest works of the talented and enigmatic portraitist William Dobson (1611-46). Dobson was described as ‘a fair middle-sized man, of ready wit and a pleasing conversation’, and the picture gives the viewers some sense of his character. The artist’s unfussy clothes, comprising a dark mantle and plain collar, allow us to focus on his face. Open-mouthed as if about to speak, and looking over his shoulder at the viewer with a penetrating gaze, Dobson deliberately references a late self-portrait by Van Dyck (National Portrait Gallery). The historian Richard Graham, who wrote the first biography of Dobson, owned this self-portrait as well as the earlier self-portrait by Van Dyck, and he displayed them as a pair, in exuberant carved and gilded auricular frames, each surmounted by a sunflower (a flower that prominently appears in another Van Dyck self-portrait). They were bought in the sale of Graham’s pictures in 1721 by ‘Mr Child’ and by 1782 they hung as a pair in the Drawing Room at Osterley. The portraits passed by descent through the family entering the collection of the Earls of Jersey when Sarah Sophia Child married George Villiers, the 5th Earl, in 1804, but remained at Osterley, appearing in photographs of the late nineteenth century and in the inventory of 1915. William Dobson was one of the first native-born English painters to be celebrated for his artistic merit. For two centuries émigré artists, such as Hans Holbein the Younger and Sir Anthony van Dyck, had dominated artistic production in England, so Dobson’s rise to fame means he is now recognised as an important artist, not just because of his skill, but also in terms of his nationality. Referring to both, the historian and natural philosopher John Aubrey described him in his book Brief Lives, written at the end of the seventeenth century, as ‘the most excellent painter that England hath yet bred’. We know little of Dobson’s early life and only about 60 of his works survive, most of which were painted in the short period between Van Dyck’s death in 1641 and his own in 1646. Dobson was apparently apprenticed to William Peake (son of the artist Robert Peake) a print seller and picture dealer, and afterwards was made a freeman of the Painters-Stainers’ Company. He was the neighbour of another artist attached to the court, Daniel Mytens, whom he likely observed painting in his studio. Dobson knew Abraham Van der Doort, the Surveyor of the King’s Pictures, through whom he gained access to Charles I’s celebrated art collection, and where he is said to have copied works by Van Dyck, Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese. He also apparently assisted in the studio of the German artist Franz Cleyn, helping design tapestry borders for the famous Mortlake factory. Dobson set himself up as independent painter, and he followed the court to Oxford at the start of the Civil War. How Dobson came to the king’s attention is unknown – it was recorded that Van Dyck introduced Dobson to the king and that ‘King Charles took Him [Dobson] into his immediate Protection, kept him in Oxford all the while his Majesty continued in that city; sat several times to him for his picture, and obliged the Prince of Wales, Prince Rupert and most of the Lords of his Court to do the like’. However, it seems unlikely that Van Dyck introduced the two (nor did the younger artist work in the Flemish master’s studio as has often been suggested) – it was probably a courtier with connoisseurial interests, such as Endymion Porter, one of the king’s grooms of the bedchamber, who presented the artist to the king. Dobson became the most important artist at court, and he is now best known for the ruddy-faced depictions of royalist soldiers that he painted during this time. By 1643 it seems that Charles I had created him Sarjeant Painter, as engraved copies of his self-portrait described him as ‘His Majestie’s Painter’, and he may also have been appointed a groom of the privy chamber. The esteem in which Dobson’s contemporaries held him was noted by the medallist and playwright Thomas Rawlins, who wrote a eulogy to him in his collection of poems ‘Calanthe’, describing him as ‘the very Soul of Art, the Prince and Prime of Painters’. However, Dobson’s increasing fame and prominence as an artist coincided with the unrest caused by the civil war. In Oxford, he set up a studio at St John’s College, where he was busy enough to employ a studio assistant, called Hesketh. As the war continued, Dobson’s work suffered from the increasing lack of appropriate materials and his portraits became characterised by the thin application of paint, on poor quality, un-primed canvas. Payments for Dobson’s portraits must have also suffered during his time in Oxford, as records survive that suggest a court official released him from a debtor’s prison. He returned to London in 1646 where, despite his former fame, he died suddenly and in poverty, aged only thirty-five. David Taylor, 2019

Provenance

Richard Graham (fl.1695-1727), his sale, London, Peletier, 6 March 1712, lot 42, bought by 'Mr Child' for 20 guineas; recorded in the collection of Sir Robert Child (1674-1721) and in the Drawing Room of his house at 42 Lincoln's Inn Fields; thence by descent, engraved for Wapole's 'Anecdotes' in 1762 and recorded in the Drawing Room at Osterley in 1782 and 1915; on loan from the Earldom of Jersey Trust.

Credit line

Osterley Park, The Jersey Collection

Makers and roles

William Dobson (London 1611 – London 1646), artist

References

Murdoch 1998 Tessa Murdoch, 'Jean, René and Thomas Pelletier, a Huguenot family of carvers and gilders in England 1682-1726', Burlington Magazine, vol.139, 1997, pp.732-42, vol.140, 1998, pp.363-74

View more details

Related articles