Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 31.djvu/248

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1703 he purchased a house in Great Queen Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields, where he resided until his death, and he invested money in other property in London. He purchased an estate at Whitton, near Hounslow, where he built himself a magnificent house, decorated with mural paintings by Laguerre and with many of his own works. Here he resided some months of the year, and received visits from royalty and the nobility. The adulation paid him made him extremely vain, and there are many anecdotes of his eccentric displays of arrogance. He possessed, however, a shrewd wit and sound judgment, and as a justice of the peace for the county of Middlesex exercised a rough-and-ready sort of equity which commanded respect. Pope alludes to his methods of dispensing justice in the lines,

I think Sir Godfrey should decide the suit,
Who sent the thief that stole the cash away,
And punished him that put it in his way

(Pope, ed. Elwin, iii. 380; Walpole, Anecdotes of Painting). He was churchwarden of Twickenham Church, and took an active part in its restoration in 1713. He was taken ill in London with a fever in May 1722, which an excellent constitution and the care of Dr. Richard Mead [q. v.] enabled him to partially conquer. But he never wholly recovered from its effect; and after being moved to Whitton in November was soon brought back to Great Queen Street, where he slowly sank, preserving his faculties to the last. He died during the night of 19 Oct. 1723 (Hist. Register, Chron. Diary, p. 50). On 7 Nov. he was carried in state to Whitton, and was buried in his garden. The register of the church at Twickenham records his burial. For some time before his death he was engaged in arranging his own monument, having models made by Francis Bird and Rysbrack. He intended it to be placed in Twickenham Church, but, being unable to obtain the particular spot in the church which he desired, he left money and directions in his will for Rysbrack's design to be carried out in Westminster Abbey. The monument was placed there in 1729, with an epitaph by Pope, imitated from the epitaph on Raffaelle.

Kneller married Susannah, daughter of the Rev. John Cawley, archdeacon of Lincoln and rector of Henley-on-Thames, and son of William Cawley [q. v.] the regicide. She survived him, without issue. She died at Bath on 24 Nov. 1729, and was buried on 11 Dec. with her husband. Early in life, according to some accounts, before he left his native country, he had a mistress, a Mrs. Vos, who is stated elsewhere to have been the wife of a quaker in Austinfriars, and to have served him as a model. By her Kneller had an illegitimate daughter, Agnes, whom he educated, and painted several times as St. Agnes, St. Catherine, &c. She married a Mr. Huckle, and had a son, Godfrey Kneller Huckle, to whom Kneller stood godfather. The son was Kneller's ultimate heir and assumed the name. By his marriage with Mary, daughter and heiress of Luke Weeks, Huckle became possessed of property at Donhead, Wiltshire. Kneller's will is dated 27 April 1723, with a codicil of 24 Oct. (printed at length in German in Heineken's ‘Nachrichten von Künstlern und Kunstsachen,’ Leipzig, 1768, p. 253). He left numerous legacies, including some to the six daughters of his brother Andreas at Hamburg. Upwards of five hundred portraits remained unfinished, to be completed by Edward Byng, who, with his brother, had been his regular assistant for many years. Mathias Oesterreich, afterwards director of the royal picture gallery at Dresden, is usually stated to have been Kneller's grandson; he was more probably his great-nephew. Kneller's house at Whitton still exists, though much altered; it is known as Kneller Hall, and is now used as the School of Military Music.

Ten reigning sovereigns in all sat to Kneller for their portraits. His sitters included almost all persons of rank, wealth, or eminence in his day, and examples of his brush may be found in nearly every historic mansion or palace in the kingdom. He kept a great number of assistants, to whom he delegated the less material portions of the painting, such as the draperies and accessories; latterly he seldom painted more than the face, and sometimes the hands, himself. His praises were sung by Dryden, Prior, Addison, Steele, and Tickell. Dryden addressed to him one of his best poems on receiving a copy of the ‘Chandos’ portrait of Shakespeare, done by Kneller as a present to the poet. The engravings from his works by his friend John Smith (whose portrait by Kneller is in the National Gallery), John Faber, and others form quite a school of mezzotint-engraving in themselves. Kneller is said to have tried his hand himself, and engraved his own portrait and a portrait of the Earl of Tweeddale, which, if really the work of Kneller and not of Smith, is an excellent performance. His paintings vary in excellence, the best being of the highest order, while others, even when authenticated, seem unworthy of a great reputation. He was always a student of the works of other great portrait-painters, and at one time quite changed his style of colouring, owing to his