Religious writer and philanthropist
Sitter in 1 portrait
Artist associated with 5 portraits - Donor of 1 portrait
Church of England clergyman
Donor of 1 portrait
Artist: by Sir Godfrey Kneller, Baronet
Medium: oil on canvas
Acquisition: gift from Revd J. Craven, 1769
Location: Examination Schools
Whole length, seated to right in carved wooden chair, head turned towards viewer; long, full, grey periwig; dark eyes, fresh cheeks; white neckcloth and gathered shirt sleeves; golden brown silk cloak lined with blue; blue/grey stockings; brown suede shoes with decorative metal buckles; his right hand rests on the arm of his chair, his left turns the pages of an open book, of which he was the author, inscribed on title page: 'A/ Companion/ for the/ Festivals and Feasts/ of the/ Church of England' which lies on a green velvet covered table to right; behind, heavy green velvet brocade curtain partially drawn to reveal bookshelves with two rows of folio volumes.
Given to the University in 1769: 'Effigiem Cl: Viri: R. Nelson. Arm:r D D Vir Rev: J Craven de' ('Registrum Benefactorum', for the year 1769, Library Records b.903, Bodleian Library, II, p.204). Transferred to the Examination Schools by Act of Convocation in 1929: 'That the Curators of the Bodleian Library be authorized to transfer from the Picture Gallery to the Examination Schools ten portraits [including] Robert Nelson, by Kneller' (Oxford University Gazette (13 Nov 1929), p.144.
'Painted in strong colours, the folds of drapery are straight sharp, & mannered. Has all faults of Kneller,' (G. Scharf, Trustees' Sketchbook, 31 July 1874, National Portrait Gallery Archive, London, Oxon, II, p.17)
Head and shoulders copy sold Sotheby's 1 March 1967 (Lot 9); line engraving by George Vertue, oval, head only published in R. Nelson,
A. Wood, History and Antiquities of the University of Oxford ed. by J. Gutch, 2 vols (1792-1796), II, Part II, p.977; G. Scharf, 'Trustee Sketchbooks', Oxon II, 31 July 1874, p.17 (National Portrait Gallery Archive, London); R. Lane Poole, Catalogue of Portraits in the possession of the University, Colleges, City, and County of Oxford, 3 vols (1912, 1925), I, p.83, no.207; J.D. Stewart, Sir Godfrey Kneller and the English baroque portrait (1983), p.120, no.522 (reduced size copy); R. Lane Poole Catalogue of Portraits in the Bodleian Library rev. by K. Garlick (2004), p.353
Annette Peach, ‘OP92 Robert Nelson (1656-1715)’, Portraits in Oxford, online edn, 2006,
[http://www.odl.ox.ac.uk/oxfordportraits/portrait.php?w=92, accessed 23rd May 2013]