Circle of Sir Godfrey Kneller (Lübeck 1646-1723 London) Portrait of Thomas Betterton, half-length, 76.4 x 63.2 cm. (30 x 25 in.)

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Lot 3
Circle of Sir Godfrey Kneller
(Lübeck 1646-1723 London)
Portrait of Thomas Betterton, half-length, 76.4 x 63.2 cm. (30 x 25 in.)

Sold for £ 1,560 (US$ 2,081) inc. premium
Circle of Sir Godfrey Kneller (Lübeck 1646-1723 London)
Portrait of Thomas Betterton, half-length, in a dark brown coat with a white jabot
oil on canvas
76.4 x 63.2 cm. (30 x 25 in.)

Footnotes

  • The present composition relates to a work from the studio of Sir Godfrey Kneller which is at Knole Park, Kent, and which probably dated from the 1690s. The poet, Alexander Pope, is known to have been acquainted with Betterton in his youth and to have copied the portrait from Kneller's studio

    Thomas Betterton (circa 1637-1712) is often referred to as the greatest English actor between Richard Burbage and David Garrick (in the Biographical Dictionary, for example). Samuel Pepys described him always as his favourite actor. He was also the pre-eminent theatrical manager of his time. In 1660 he left Thomas Killigrew's King's Company to co-manage the Duke's Company with Sir William Davenant, eventually becoming manager of the United Company in 1687 after the two companies had combined. As such Betterton was responsible for erecting a modern, purpose-built theatre in Dorset Gardens that cost £9000. This enabled him to exploit the potential of new technology in stage scenery, combined with music and dancing as well as words, allowing for a type of spectacle only seen before by French and Italian audiences, in such works as the John Dryden-Henry Purcell collaboration, King Arthur and The Fairy Queen with music by Purcell to a book probably written by Betterton himself. As well as his work with Dryden he was important in developing some of the other foremost playwrights of his day, including Aphra Behn, Thomas Otway, William Congreve and Sir John Vanburgh.
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