Godfrey Kneller was born Gottfried Kniller at Lübeck, North Germany, son of an established family. He studied painting in Amsterdam under Ferdinand Bol and may have had some instruction from Rembrandt towards the end of the latter’s life. He spent some time in Italy working in Rome, Naples and Venice before coming, almost by chance, to England, where he stayed. Young and courteous, Kneller was recommended to Charles II and came to be employed in royal circles through his reign and that of James II, William III and Queen Anne. He amassed a large fortune, although it took a dip on account of the ‘South Sea Bubble.’ His work was very highly rated in his own day, bringing praise from such figures as Pope, Dryden and Pepys. As a result of all this adulation he became somewhat arrogant. He was knighted in 1692 and made a baronet in 1715. He lived at Great Queen Street, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, and built a house for himself at Whitton, near Hounslow, that still exists under the name of Kneller Hall. Kneller was an extraordinarily prolific painter but he had a great deal of help from assistants and his reputation took a dive after his death, never to recover.