Anecdotes of Painting in England: With Some Account of the Principal Artists - Vol. 2

By Horace Walpole | Go to book overview

throughout. Riley, who was humble, modest, and of an amiable character, had the greatest diffidence of himself, and was easily disgusted with his own works, the source probably of the objections made to him. With a quarter of Sir Godfrey's vanity, he might have persuaded the world he was as great a master.

He was born 1 in 1646, and received instructions from Fuller and Zoust, but was little noticed till the death of Lely, when, Chiffinch being persuaded to sit to him, the picture was shown, and recommended him to the king. Charles sat to him, but almost discouraged the bashful artist from pursuing a profession so proper for him. Looking at the picture he cried, "Is this like me ? then od's fish, I am an ugly fellow." This discouraged Riley so much, that he could not bear the picture, though he sold it for a large price. James and his queen sat to him. So did their successors, and appointed him their painter. 2 But the gout put an early end to Riley's progress. He died in 1691, at the age of forty-five, and was buried in Bishopsgatechurch, in which parish he was born. Richardson married a near relation to Riley, and inherited about 800l. in pictures, drawings, and effects. 3


JOHN CLOSTERMAN,

(1656—1713,) 4

son of a painter, was born at Osnaburgh, and with his countryman, one Tiburen, went to Paris in 1679, where he worked for De Troye. In 1681 they came to England, and Closterman at first painted draperies for Riley, and afterwards they painted in conjunction, Riley still executing most of the heads. On his death Closterman finished several of his pictures, which recommended him to the Duke of

____________________
1
One Thomas Riley was an actor, and has a copy of verses addressed to him in Randolph's poems. This might be the painter's father. In the same place are some Latin verses by Riley, whom I take to be our painter himself.
2
At Nuneham, Lord Harcourt has two portraits by him of the poets Otway and J. Philips.—D.
3
[Three portraits by Riley were sold at the Strawberry-hill sale :—a small portrait of Thompson, the printseller, for 2 guineas; and a pair of small oval portraits of Waller the poet, and Chaffinel, Privy Purse to Charles 11., for guineas.—W.]
4
[Nagler's Künstler Lexicon.—W.]

-222-

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