Wednesday, October 18, 2023

William Larkin at Kenwood House

Whenever I come to London, I never fail to make a pilgrimage to the paintings by William Larkin (early 1580s-1619), part of the Suffolk Collection on the first floor of Kenwood House in Hampstead. On my first visit to Kenwood, soon after my arrival here, the upper floor was closed due to insufficient volunteer guides to man the space. (This has often been the case on my past visits, or, as with yesterday, the works were only on view for a few hours). Kenwood houses the largest collection of this extraordinary, shamefully underrated painter’s work. 

An English court painter from the Jacobean period that immediately proceeded the Elizabethan era, Larkin was long referred to as the ‘Curtain Master’. Beyond this, comparatively little is known of his life. In my opinion, a monograph and a retrospective of his work are way overdue. 

Pictured above:

1: Lady Isabel Rich, née Cope, c. 1614-18;

2: Lady Diana Cecil, c. 1614-18

3: Probably Elizabeth Cary, née Stanfield, c. 1614-18;

4: Catherine Knevet, c.1615;

5: Anne Cecil, Countess of Stamford c.1615;

6: Elizabeth Drury, Countess of Exeter, c.1615;

7: L-R Richard Sackville, c.1613 and Edward Sackville c.1613; 

8-10: Installation views.

All works are oil on canvas.