Wyndham Knatchbull-Wyndham’s Whippet

Portrait (1758–1759), oil on canvas, of Sir Wyndham Knatchbull-Wyndham, 6th Bt, by Pompeo Batoni (1708-1787) 

Here is Pompeo Batoni’s portrait of Sir Wyndham Knatchbull-Wyndham, 6th Baronet which was painted between 1758 and 1759, most likely while Knatchbull-Wyndham was on his Grand Tour (a rite of passage of European – mostly British- nobility, who would travel through the European mainland from Paris to Naples in search of the beginnings of Western civilisation, art, theatre and literature).

In the background of this painting, we can see a possibly Ancient Greek bust of the helmeted Athena, Greek goddess of wisdom, a number of Roman Tuscan columns framing the scene, as well as a landscape behind Knatchbull-Wyndham showing the ruins of a Greek or Roman temple and arches.

It could be suggested that here, the whippet, which looks adoringly up at her master, is an anthropomorphic symbol of  Knatchbull-Wyndham’s refined sensibilities, good breeding and intellect. Or it could just be his travellinng companion!


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