SIR GODFREY KNELLER (GERMAN/ ENGLISH, 1646-1723), PORTRAIT OF LORD CHIEF JUSTICE SIR JOHN HOLT, OIL ON CANVAS, 18TH C., H 48", W 40"
Unsigned; modern frame. Provenance: Sotheby's, Lot 117, 15-6-00 sticker on verso. An oil on canvas portrait of Sir John Holt by the English court painter Sir Godfrey Kneller, famous for his portraits of the Kit-Cat club, an eighteenth century English literary and political group who gathered in the Strand for conversation and mutton pies. Kneller was court painter to monarchs from Charles II to George I, and his works hang in many Oxford and Cambridge colleges, The National Portrait Gallery, and the Tate among other places. The subject, Sir John Holt, was Lord Chief Justice of the Court of King's Bench and Privy Councillor to the King. He attended Oriel College, Oxford and went to Gray's Inn in 1658 at the age of 16 to become a barrister. His most lasting contribution to English law was ending the prosecution for witchcraft and the death penalty of burning at the stake. Provenance: this painting comes from Lord Dayton, a descendant of Sir John Holt.