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Sir Godfrey Kneller

Kneller, Sir Godfrey (nĕlˈər) [key] or Gottfried von Kniller gôtˈfrēt fən knĭlˈər, 1646–1723, English portrait painter, b. Germany. After study in Amsterdam, Rome, and Venice, he settled in England in 1675, achieving success in fashionable circles and at court, where he was named principal painter in 1688. Serving under the monarchs from Charles II to George I, Kneller and the factory of painters in his employ mass-produced such works as Ten Beauties of the Court (Hampton Court), The Duchess of Portsmouth (Goodwood, Sussex), and Charles Beauclerk (Metropolitan Mus.). From 1702 to 1717 he executed 42 portraits of the members of the Kit-Cat Club (National Portrait Gall., London), which are among his best works. His facile and standardized paintings are sometimes careless of execution. Kneller became the director, in 1711, of the first Academy of Painting in London and strongly influenced the subsequent generation of English portraitists.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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