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Godfrey Kneller

British, 1646 - 1723

Sir Godfrey Kneller was born in Lübeck, August 1646 and died in October 19, 1723.

Kneller began his artistic training in Amsterdam in 1662, but the desire for greater discipline in design and proportion led him to Italy, where he studied perspective, anatomy, and Renaissance painting from about 1668 to 1674. After a brief return to Germany, he settled in London in 1676, where his skill enabled him to replace the aging Peter Lely as the favorite painter of Charles II. Royal favor generated great demand for his work and Kneller was forced to rely heavily on studio assistants. Having been naturalized as an English citizen in 1682, he went on to serve five successive English monarchs. He was knighted by William III in 1792 and granted a baronetcy by George I in 1715. His series of portraits of members of the Kit-Cat Club (painted 1700-20) established an innovative portrait format (head and shoulders with one or both hands showing), known as the 'Kit-Cat.' In 1711 he and a few colleagues established the first school of art in England.