portrait of sir john leigh c1675 attributed to john greenhill

Portrait of Sir John Leigh c.1675; Attributed to John Greenhill.



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Oil on canvas in a carved gilt wood and composition frame.
This portrait of Sir John Leigh has a very direct feel, the sitter looking out with a level gaze.
Which branch of the Leigh family belongs to the sitter is not known for certain, though it may be the Sir John Leigh of Addington, Surrey, who died in 1737. Addington House was the home of the Leighs from the early 1500s until the death of Sir John when its ownership was disputed in a court of law for 40 years. In the early 1800s it became, after total rebuilding, Addington Palace, as a country home for the Archbishop of Canterbury.
JOHN GREENHILL (c.1644-1676), was an English born portrait painter whose initial training is unknown but who rivalled the leading London artists of the seventeenth century.
The Restoration of King Charles II (1630-85) stimulated an upheaval within the cultural sphere, in particular artistic patronage. Portrait painters such as Sir Peter Lely quickly found favour amongst the highest ranks of society, and as a result many continental artists migrated to England in a bid to win the patronage of the monarch, prosperous courtiers and powerful statesmen. Greenhill was amongst very few English artists able to compete with the popularity and skill of foreign artists and just one month before his premature death, he was still considered one of the most talented portrait painters of the age.
Of all the artists to emerge from the studio of Sir Peter Lely (1618-80) – the dominant artist in England in the late seventeenth century – John Greenhill was, as George Vertue noted, “the most excellent.” He is known to have joined Lely’s studio by 1662, but seems to have left fairly soon afterwards to establish his own practice. Vertue claimed that Lely was jealous of his pupil’s ability. He was commissioned to paint a number of leading figures of the court, including Anne, Duchess of York, and even the King. However, his dissolute lifestyle led to the end of promising career – he died barely into his thirties, after falling into a gutter, drunk, in Long Acre, leaving a wife and young family behind.
SIZE: 36.25 x 31.25 inches including the frame.
PROVENANCE: Deceased London estate related to the sitter. His name is known through a 1950s insurance valuation of this painting and a companion portrait of his wife which was inscribed verso.
Internal Ref: 9101


Height = 92 cm (36")
Width = 77 cm (31")
Depth = 7.5 cm (3")

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