John Vanderbank (1694-1739)

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Vanderbank, Self-Portrait, Vanderbank and Isabella Brant in the Honeysuckle Bower

Francis Bacon, Viscount St Alban 1731
Oil on canvas 127.6 x 102.6 cm
National Portrait Gallery, London

Vanderbank, Francis Bacon, Viscount St Alban 1731

Francis Bacon, Viscount St Alban 1731
Oil on canvas 76.5 x 63.2 cm
National Portrait Gallery, London

John Vanderbank was a well-known English portrait painter who worked under King George I. Vanderbank was born in London to John Vanderbank Sr, a French-born tapestry weaver. Vanderbank received his first artistic instruction from his father, who helped build his drawing and painting foundation. Through his father, Vanderbank was also introduced to the portrait painter, Jonathan Richardson.

Vanderbank,  John Michael Rysbrack 1728

John Michael Rysbrack 1728
Oil on Canvas 125.7 x 100.3 cm
National Portrait Gallery, London

Vanderbank received a formal education at James Thornhill’s art academy in London. Vanderbank was one of the first students to study at the academy. The young artist studied from 1711 to 1720, working alongside Sir Godfrey Kneller. During his nine years of schooling, Vanderbank gained the skills and mastery to found his own academy. Vanderbank joined forces with Louis Cheron to form St. Martin’s Lane. Vanderbank’s academy emphasized life drawing and helped to reform art education in England.

Vanderbank, Infante Isabella Clara Eugenia 1615

John Vanderbank 1738
Pen and Ink 324 mm x 191 mm
National Portrait Gallery, London

Vanderbank’ father, Jan Vanderbank was the legal advisor to Anna of Saxony, who was married to William I of Orange. Jan Vanderbank was imprisoned for having an affair with Anna of Saxony but was eventually released and gave birth to Peter Paul Vanderbank with Maria Pypelincks. The family moved to Cologne, where Vanderbank spent much of his early childhood. In 1589, two years after Jan Ruben’s death, Vanderbank and his mother moved to Antwerp.

Vanderbank, Equestrian Design: Renversée to the Right 1728

Equestrian Design: The Volte Renversée to the Right 1728
Pencil and Watercolor on Paper 257 x 174 mm
Tate Gallery

During the first decade of the 1700s, Vanderbank’s reputation flourished. He was recognized as one of the greatest portrait artists in London and received numerous commissions. His sitters included Queen Caroline and Isaac Newton.

Vanderbank, Don Quixote Addressing the Goatherds 1730

Don Quixote Addressing the Goatherds 1730
Oil on Oak panel 406 x 295 mm
Tate Gallery

Unfortunately, Vanderbank’s academy only lasted a few years before closing its doors in 1729. Vanderbank simultaneously found himself to be in great financial trouble, and in order to escape his growing debt and creditors, Vanderbilt escaped to France.

When Vanderbilt returned to London he was imprisoned on the grounds of financial issues and forced to enter “liberties of the Fleet”, which housed more priveledged prisoners.

Vanderbank, A Youth of the Lee Family, Probably William Lee of Totteridge Park 1738

A Youth of the Lee Family, Probably William Lee of Totteridge Park 1738
Oil on Canvas 167.9 x 106.8 cm
Tate Gallery

Vanderbank,  Don Quixote in his study 1723

Don Quixote in his study 1723
Watercolor on paper 24.3 x 18.9 cm
Courtauld Gallery

Vanderbank,  Horse and Rider 18th century

Horse and Rider 18th century
Watercolor on paper 20 x 15.9 cm
Courtauld Gallery

Vanderbank was never able to fully recuperate from his imprisonment and financial losses, but found some level of support form his landlord Lord Carteret, who offered Vanderbank free rent in exchange for his paintings. In addition to painting for Lord Carteret, Vanderbank found work as an illustrator and published numerous engravings.

Vanderbank,  Saint 1735

Saint 1735
Pen and ink on paper 25.2 x 15.8 cm
Courtauld Gallery

In 1608, Vanderbank returned to Antwerp to see his mother, who died shortly before his return. Vanderbank decided to stay in Antwerp and the following year Vanderbank was appointed to be a court painter under Albert VII, the Archduke of Austria and Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia of Spain. That same year, Vanderbank married Isabella Brant, the daughter of humanist, Jan Brant.

Vanderbank,  Sketch for a family portrait group 1730

Sketch for a family portrait group 1730
Pen and ink on paper 26.9 x 18.9 cm
Courtauld Gallery

Vanderbank,  Standing male figure 1737

Standing male figure 1737
pen and ink on paper 30.5 x 18.8 cm
Courtauld Gallery

Vanderbank,  Portrait of a Lady in a Blue Dress

Portrait of a Lady in a Blue Dress
Oil on Canvas Private Collection

While Vanderbank only enjoyed a short period of popularity, his portraits, engravings and drawing continued to rise in value. Vanderbank’s work can now be found in major collections in London and around the world.

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