Portrait of John Evelyn by Robert Walker

Robert Walker is largely remembered for his many undistinguished portraits of Oliver Cromwell and shameless borrowing of poses from Van Dyck.


Oil on canvas
74 x 61 cm
Art Fund grant:
£25,000 ( Total: £294,184)
Acquired in:
Artemis Fine Arts

His depiction of Evelyn, however, is one of the most remarkable of all seventeenth century philosophical portraits. It shows the 27 year-old virtuoso in melancholy attitude, en deshabille, swathed in black drapery and resting a hand on a skull. A column behind is inscribed in Greek with a dictum of Epictetus, 'Repentence is the beginning of the love of wisdom', while the paper which lies under the skull is inscribed with a quotation in Latin from the Stoic philosopher Seneca.


John Evelyn; by descent; Christie's, 1992.

Venue details

National Portrait Gallery St Martin's Place, LONDON London WC2H 0HE 020 7306 0055 www.npg.org.uk

Entry details

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