The Art Fund helps kick start National Portrait Gallery appeal with first £50,000

  • 16 November 2007

The Art Fund has helped to kick start an appeal to save the only known portrait from life of John Fletcher for the National Portrait Gallery with a grant of £50,000

John Fletcher (1579-1625) was one of the most successful and prolific playwrights of the Jacobean period. He wrote three plays jointly with Shakespeare: Cardenio (now lost), The Famous History of the Life of King Henry VIII and The Two Noble Kinsmen, and is also well known for his collaboration with Francis Beaumont.

The painting, by an unidentified artist, depicts Fletcher as a prosperous and well-dressed man with paper and pens. It would be an important addition to the Gallery’s collection of 16th and 17th century poets which currently includes paintings of Shakespeare, Jonson and a work that The Art Fund was instrumental in saving the in 2006 of John Donne.

David Barrie, Director of The Art Fund, said: “We’re delighted that our grant will help kick start the National Portrait Gallery’s appeal to save this painting. Fletcher was among the stars of Jacobean theatre; most famous for his collaborations with Beaumont and Shakespeare. Though his plays are seldom performed today, he richly deserves his place in the English literary pantheon - and this sensitive portrait therefore belongs in the National Portrait Gallery, alongside those of his contemporaries, Shakespeare, Jonson and Donne.”

The portrait is on offer for £218,000, which is a substantially reduced price following tax remission. Thanks to The Art Fund grant, the Gallery must now raise the final £168,000 through appeal by the deadline of 20 January 2008.

Press release