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Sir John Vanbrugh (1664–1726)

Photo credit: RIBA Collections

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Sir John Vanbrugh (1664–1726) was a soldier, spy, courtier, diplomat, playwright and architect. His adventurous life included two years trading in Surat, India (1683–1685) and four years in various French prisons including the Bastille (1688–1692), accused of being a spy. Two of his plays, 'The Relapse' and 'The Provok’d Wife', are still played today. With no training in architecture at all, Vanbrugh was commissioned by his friend, Lord Carlisle, to design a major new country house at Castle Howard, Yorkshire (1700–1726) and thereafter, often with the professional assistance of Nicholas Hawksmoor, he was a central figure of the English Baroque.

RIBA Library Drawings and Archives Collections


  • Date


  • Medium

    oil on canvas

  • Measurements

    126 x 111.5 cm

  • Accession number


  • Acquisition method

    unknown acquisition method


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Normally on display at

RIBA Library Drawings and Archives Collections

Victoria and Albert Museum Cromwell Road, London, Greater London SW7 2RL England

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