Logo: Silhouette of William Hunter

Hunterian Museum & Art Gallery William Hunter Collections:
GLAHA 43835

This information is © The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, University of Glasgow 2017

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GLAHM 43835: 'John Arbuthnot ' 1723 - click to view larger image

"John Arbuthnot " 1723

oil painting

CRE KNELLER, Godfrey, Sir; (English; 1646-1723)

oil on canvas
75.5 x 63.0
94.2 x 82.1 English 18th century pine carved frame with pierced corners and mid-sections.
inscr in gold r. "JOANNES ARBUTHNOT / M.D. / Opus ultimum G. Kneller / Georgio Arbuthnot filio / D.D. A. Pope"; inscr. b.l. ". . . Arbuthnot M.D."
From the founder, William Hunter's collection. According to the inscription on the canvas, this was Kneller's last work. Arbuthnot (1667-1735) was a physician and writer born near Aberdeen who became Physician in Ordinary to Queen Anne in 1705. This portrait - which was in the collection of Alexander Pope - would have interested Hunter as image of an earlier Scottish medic who was a lively member of the London intellectual scene. Hunter's correspondence includes a letter from Arbuthnot's great niece Esther, who refers to Hunter's unfulfilled promise to her that he would give the painting to the University of Aberdeen 'so that he would be immortalised in his native country'. Hunter seems to have achieved this by making no separate arrangement in his will for the painting which came with his other pictures to his own University, Glasgow. The inscription notes that this painting was Kneller's final work, and that it was given to the sitter's son George by Alexander Pope. Pope and Arbuthnot were close friends, an association documented in Pope's epistle to Dr Arbuthnot, which is written in the style of a Horatian epistle and touches on the ancient poet's concerns. In Latin love elegy the addressing of a last poem is seen as the ultimate act of friendship (see, for example, the opening lines of Virgil's 10th Eclogue addressed to Gallus, which begins 'extremum hunc Arethusa mihi concede laborem' - Grant that this, Arethusa, will be my final work'. Bequeathed by Dr William Hunter, 1783

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