Framing the Portrait: Francis Wyatt of Quex by John Closterman

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John Closterman, Portrait of Sir Francis Wyatt, circa 1690 
Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

What would furniture be without pictures?  In addition to our collection of fine antique furniture, we also look for paintings that complement the style and aesthetic of eighteenth century antiques.  Portraiture has always been a fundamental aspect of English interiors, and we are delighted to present this portrait of Francis Wyatt painted by John Closterman in the late seventeenth century.

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John Closterman, John Poulett, first Earl Poulett, circa 1680 
Yale Center for British Art

John Closterman

John Closterman, also spelt Johann Cloosterman, was born in Osnabrück in Germany and trained as a young boy with his father who was an artist. Closterman travelled to Paris in 1679 and went on to England in 1681 where he worked as an assistant to the portrait artist John Riley. While working with Riley, Closterman trained primarily as a drapery painter.

Riley died in 1691, and the demand for Closterman’s work increased significantly.  After several trips to Europe, including one to Spain where he had been invited by the court to create portraits of Carlos II and Maria Ana of Neuberg, Closterman returned to England.

He returned to England in the late 1690s where he received numerous important commissions.  One of his portraits depicts Queen Anne in her coronation robes carrying an orb and sceptre, while another illustrates the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough in a family portrait with their children John, Marquis of Blandford, Lady Henrietta, Lady Ann, Lady Elizabeth, and Lady Mary Churchill.

In addition to painting, Closterman began dealing in pictures and advised several prominent members of society including the Duke of Somerset and Sir Francis Child.  After a trip to Rome, Closterman held a sale at his house on the piazza in Covent Garden in December 1702 consisting of eighty-nine lots in total

Closterman continued to have success throughout the first decade of the eighteenth century before he died in May 1711 at the age of fifty-one.

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Robert Nixon’s depiction of Allington Castle where Sir Henry Wyatt hosted King Henry VIII 
Yale Center for British Art

Francis Wyatt

The subject of this portrait, Francis Wyatt, is identified through the inscription on the bottom left corner of the painting which reads: Francis son/of Edwin Wiat Esqr.  The Wyatt family, alternatively spelt Wiat, Wiot, and Wyot etc, were based in Kent and can be traced back to Sir Henry Wyatt of Allington Castle.  Sir Henry Wyatt served in the court of Henry VIII as both an ambassador and a poet, and Henry VIII visited Wyatt at Allington in 1527 after he returned from the continent.

The grandfather of the portrait’s sitter, Sir Francis Wyatt, was the first English royal governor of Virginia.  He was appointed by Charles I and successfully defended Jamestown in 1622 when the settlement was attacked.  Wyatt’s son, Edwin Wyatt, the father of this portrait’s sitter, became a prominent figure in the legal profession with roles as serjeant at law and justice of the peace for Kent.  Edwin and his wife Frances, who was the daughter of Thomas Crispe of Quex, bore a son, Francis, the sitter.  Francis married Elizabeth and established a home at Quex in Kent.

The original structure at Quex was an extensive brick building built in the Elizabethan style with ornate features.  The original building was torn down in the late eighteenth century and completely rebuilt by the Powelll family.

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