Collection online


  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Self-portrait; bust, half-l, looking to front Red, black, and brown chalk, over graphite (?), on buff paper

  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1680-1685
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 313 millimetres
    • Width: 227 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Stainton & White 1987
        Inscribed, in brown ink, in Ralph Thoresby's hand:"ye effigies of Mr Hen: Gyles the celebrated Glass-Painter at Yorke"
  • Curator's comments

    Stainton & White 1987
    While there is no doubt that this is a portrait of Henry Gyles (the inscription is in the hand of the antiquary Ralph Thoresby, who was a close friend), it is less certain that it is by Gyles himself. It was first described as a self-portrait in Walpole's sale catalogue, perhaps recording an earlier attribution. Gyles is not known to have made portrait drawings, and Croft-Murray and Hulton therefore suggested that this study might be by another artist associated with the York Virtuosi, perhaps John Lambert (d. 1701), son of the Parliamentarian general and described by Thoresby as "a most exact limner", Jacques Parmentier (1658-1730), the French decorative artist who settled in Yorkshire and painted some portraits, or Francis Place, who engraved a mezzotint portrait of Gyles for his trade card, probably in the mid-1670s. The present drawing is probably slightly later in date.

    K Sloan, Noble Art 2000
    Henry Gyles was the third generation of his family to follow the art of glass painting and his surviving works date from 1670-1707. They include windows in public buildings, chapels and a sundial at Tong, near Bradford. His friend Ralph Thoresby, who owned this drawing and the following mezzotint, described him as 'the famousest painter of glass perhaps in the world'. He assisted Thoresby in his collecting, not only of glass but of other objects as well, and although he never earned a substantial living from his trade, he was a congenial host to his fellow York virtuosi. By 1679, he owned a manuscript copy of Norgate's Miniatura, to which he added recipes for his own profession (BL Harleian MSS 6276, 1-83).
        Drawings for his glass designs are in the City Art Gallery York, but few other drawings survive and no portraits. This type of 'crayon' portrait was practiced by several artists who were also early mezzotinters such as Edward Luttrell and Francis Place. Although it has been called a self-portrait ever since it was first catalogued by Horace Walpole, who may have been basing his attribution on an earlier inscription, it seems more likely that this portrait of Gyles was drawn by Place, who mezzotinted Gyles's portrait (cat. 21; 1881,0611.299) and several after crayons by the artist John Greenhill, and is known to have drawn portraits in chalk himself. According to Thoresby, their friend John Lambert (d.1701), was also a 'most exact limner'.

    Literature: Tyler, p.19; J.T. Brighton, 'Cartoons for York Glass - Henry Gyles', City of York Art Gallery Quarterly, XXI, Oct. 1968, pp. 772-5


  • Bibliography

    • Binyon 1898-1907 1 bibliographic details
    • Croft-Murray 1960 1 bibliographic details
    • Stainton & White 1987 137 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (British Roy PII)

  • Exhibition history

    1934 BM, Exhibition of English Art, no.279 1974 July-Dec, BM, Portrait Drawings, no.147 1987 June-Aug, BM, Hilliard to Hogarth no.137 1987 Sep-Nov, New Haven, Yale Center for British Art, Hilliard to Hogarth 2000 May-Sep, BM P&D, 'A Noble Art', no.20
    2009/10 Oct-Jan, New Haven, YCBA, Horace Walpole's Strawberry Hill
    2010 Mar-July, London, V&A, Horace Walpole's Strawberry Hill

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    This drawing originally formed part of the two volumes of 'Portraits of English painters collected by Mr Vertue and Mr Walpole', lot 1270 in the sale of the Strawberry Hill collection, London 13 June 1842: see Print Quarterly, December 2000

  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number


Self-portrait; bust, half-l, looking to front Red, black, and brown chalk, over graphite (?), on buff paper

Self-portrait; bust, half-l, looking to front Red, black, and brown chalk, over graphite (?), on buff paper

Image description



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