John Evelyn 1648

Painted by Robert Walker in 1648, by which time John had returned to England from his grand tour of the Continent. Evelyn recorded in his diary that he sat for Walker on 1st July. The painting was to accompany a treatise on marriage which he had written for his wife and originally he was painted holding a miniature of her and the skull was added in later years together with the greek motto that reads “Repentance is the beginning of wisdom”.

This is a much more informal portrait than the 1641 version and at first glance there are fewer costume details, but if you look closely, you can see some construction points in his shirt. This is a quality shirt, fine linen cut very full and gathered to his cuffs and short neckband. This is the kind of shirt that would have had separate falling band and cuffs tacked or pinned on for wearing under a doublet, but here, as the sitter is in an informal setting he’s just wearing the shirt without adornment.

The portrait hangs in the National Portrait Gallery and as such is © National Portrait Gallery, London.


NPG 6179; John Evelyn by Robert Walker


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