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Portrait - Matthew Prior

Matthew Prior

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    London (painted)

  • Date:

    ca. 1700 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Kneller, Godfrey Bt (Sir), born 1646 - died 1723 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    oil on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Rev. Alexander Dyce, 1869

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 54, Henrietta Street Room []

Object Type
Portraits of literary figures became increasingly common in the late 17th century.

Subjects Depicted
Matthew Prior (1664-1721) was a famous poet, diplomat and politician, who became a fellow of St John's College Cambridge in 1688. He published translations from Horace and Ovid, and throughout his life wrote poems and essays. Prior was a collector of paintings and prints.

Kneller was born in Lübeck, Germany. He studied mathematics and military fortification at Leyden University about 1662, and was then apprenticed in Amsterdam to the painters Ferdinand Bol and Rembrandt. He travelled to Italy, particularly Rome and Venice. He settled in England in 1676, and by 1678 had secured royal patronage. Kneller was appointed in 1688 as Principal Painter to William III and was knighted in 1692. Kneller became a leading fashionable portrait painter. He inherited the leading and fashionable position of Lely as a prolific exponent of the baroque portrait in England. His famous series of 36 by 28 inch half-length portraits (Kit-cat portraits), named after the Kit-cat Club, whose members were the sitters, decisively influenced the course of 18th-century English portraiture. He was also renowned for the series of portraits of ladies at the royal court, the Hampton Court 'Beauties' 1690-1691.

Physical description

oil painting on canvas

Place of Origin

London (painted)


ca. 1700 (made)


Kneller, Godfrey Bt (Sir), born 1646 - died 1723 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

oil on canvas


Height: 38 cm, Width: 31 cm

Object history note

Bequeathed by Rev. Alexander Dyce, 1869
Painted in London, by Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt (born, Lübeck, Germany, 1646, died in London, 1723)

Descriptive line

Oil painting, Portrait of Matthew Prior, Godfrey Kneller, ca. 1700

Labels and date

British Galleries:
This portrait of the poet, diplomat and politician Matthew Prior (1664-1721) was painted by the leading portrait painter of the day, Sir Godfrey Kneller, whose self portrait is shown on the left. Prior was a friend of the Earl of Oxford, who owned the land on which Henrietta Street was built. [27/03/2003]


Oil paint; Canvas


Oil painting


Paintings; Portraits


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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