Sir Robert Southwell (1635-1702)

Date: ca. 1695-1720

This portrait is a copy of a ca. 1695 portrait of Sir Robert Southwell by Sir Godfrey Kneller given to the Royal Society of London by Southwell. Southwell was a mentor of William Byrd II and sponsored Byrd’s election to the Royal Society. It is possible that Byrd commissioned the copy of the portrait as late as the 1720s. The portrait descended in the Byrd family.

Reference: Left in Mary Willing Byrd’s will to Charles Willing Byrd as one of his grandfather’s “particular friends,” “Sir Robert Southall.”

Dimensions: 50 x 40 in. (101.6 x 76.2 cm.)

The subject sits in a large chair and wars a long gray wig and brown dress robes.

See: David Meschutt, “William Byrd and His Portrait Collection,” MESDA Journal 14, no. 1 (May 1988): 18-47; The Royal Society of London Online Collection; Carolyn J. Weekley, Painters and Paintings in the Early American South (2013), 88.

Credits: Courtesy of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture, 1978.11.