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The Right Honble Godart Bardon de Ginkel

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    England (printed)

  • Date:

    1692 (printed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Smith, John (engraver)
    Kneller, Godfrey Bt (Sir), born 1646 - died 1723 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level D, case PP, shelf 30

Mezzotint is an engraving technique where the surface of a metal plate is roughened and indented by a ‘rocker’, a tool with metal teeth. The rocker makes lots of dotted indentations in the surface of the plate which hold ink. To allow a gradation of tone, certain areas of the plate are burnished – the surface is smoothed - so that their ink-holding capacity is reduced. Mezzotint allows subtle variations of tone to be achieved.

Godert de Ginkel, first Earl of Athlone (1644-1703) was a Dutch general who served under William III and Queen Anne; he fought at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 and as Lieutenant General and Commander-in-Chief in Ireland was charged with crushing the Jacobite cause. In 1692 he was created Baron of Aghrim and Earl of Athlone for his services to the crown.

John Smith (1652-1743) was a leading London mezzotint engraver, producing many engravings after portraits by Sir Godfrey Kneller (1646-1723). Smith trained in London under the Dutch painter and engraver Jan Van der Vaart. The German-born Godfrey Kneller (1646-1723) came to London in 1676 and, following the death of Sir Peter Lely in 1680, he became court painter to Charles II - a position he maintained under four successive monarchs. He was also involved in politics and was a member of the Kit-Kat club - a group of prominent early-eighteenth century Whig writers, artists and intellectuals.

Here Ginkel is shown in full armour holding a baton, a symbol of his authority as a general, and resting his hand on a helmet. In the background, to the right, a battle takes place. Military figures were often depicted in a classicised style of armour in this period, even though armour was no longer worn on the battle field. Along with the general’s baton, the armour is used to create the image of a battle-hardened commander and his role in warfare.

Physical description

Portrait, three-quarter-length, wearing armour, holding a general's baton and resting his other hand on a helmet; in the background to the right a battle takes place.

Place of Origin

England (printed)


1692 (printed)


Smith, John (engraver)
Kneller, Godfrey Bt (Sir), born 1646 - died 1723 (artist)

Materials and Techniques


Marks and inscriptions

'The Right Hon.ble Godart Bardon de Ginkel, Created Earl of Athlone, & Baron Aghrym, in Ireland 1691, Commander in Chief of all their Ma.ties Forces in ye said Kingdome, & Gen.l of ye Horse in Flanders &c. / G. Kneller Eques pinx. J. Smith fec et exc.'


Height: 36.8 cm, Width: 28.1 cm

Descriptive line

Portrait of Godart De Ginkell, first Earl of Athlone. Mezzotint by John Smith after Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1692.


Ink; Paper



Subjects depicted

War; Battle; Baton; Armour; General; Helmet


Prints; Portraits


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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