William Dobson

Image credit: National Portrait Gallery, London

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Born in London, Dobson was probably the son of a painter. He studied under the painter and publisher, William Peake, and the artist, Francis Cleyn, and probably through him came to know the paintings of Titian and Van Dyck. Painter of the embattled Royalists, he was active during the Civil War both with the Royal Court in Oxford, and in London, as Principal Painter to the King. He returned to London after the defeat of the King by Parliament and was briefly imprisoned for debt. He died in poverty aged thirty-five and was buried in St Martin-in-the-Fields. An elegy by Thomas Rawlins commemorated him as 'the very Soul of Art, the Prince and Prime of Painters'.

National Portrait Gallery, London



William Dobson


oil on canvas


H 72 x W 59.6 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Purchased, 1870

Work type



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