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Walker, Robert

WALKER, ROBERT (d. c. 1658), British painter, was a contemporary and to a slight extent a follower of Van Dyck. The date of his birth is uncertain, and no details are known of his early life. Although influenced by Van Dyck's art, he had still a considerable degree of individuality and developed a sound style of his own which was more severe and restrained than that of the greater master. His greatest vogue was at the time of the Commonwealth, for in addition to several portraits of Cromwell he painted other portraits of Lambert, Ireton, Fleetwood, and many more members of the Parliamentarian party. In 1652 he was given rooms in Arundel House in the Strand, London, where he resided for the rest of his life. He died either in 1658 or in 1660, the authority for the earlier date being an inscription on an engraved portrait by Lombart. His work had much merit ; it was vigorous and showed sound study of character. Several of his paintings, among them the portrait of William Faithorne the elder, are in the National Portrait Gallery, and there are others of notable importance at Hampton Court and in the University Galleries at Oxford. One of his portraits of Cromwell is in the Pitti Palace, where it is ascribed to Lely; it was bought in the artist's lifetime, but after the Protector's death, by the grand duke Ferdinand II. of Tuscany. Another is at Warwick Castle.

Walker painted also Robert Cromwell and his wife Elizabeth Steward, parents of the Protector. The portrait of the latter, attended by a page who is fastening his sash at the waist (now in the National Portrait Gallery, transferred from the British Museum, to which it was bequeathed by Sir Robert Rich, Bart., descendant of Cromwell's friend, Nathaniel Rich) was called by Walpole " Cromwell and Lambert " ; but it is now certain that the page represents Cromwell's son Richard. Elizabeth Cromwell, afterwards Mrs Claypole, the Protector's daughter, also sat to him. As no complete account of Walker's work is in existence (that of Walpole being very incomplete, while Cunningham passes him over entirely), it may be added that the artist twice painted John Evelyn, in different sizes, as well as Bradshaw, John Hampden, Colonel Thomas Sanders, Cornet Joyce, and Speaker Lenthall, as well as Sir William and Lady Waller, Mrs Thomas Knight, and General George Monk, duke of Albemarle, and Sir Thomas Fairfax (engraved by Faithorne). A portrait of Secretary Thurlow, which was in the Lord Northwick Collection, was attributed to him. As Walker was in the camp of the Parliamentarians and Dobson was the court painter at Oxford, few aristocratic persons sat to the former. Exceptions are Mary Capel, duchess of Beaufort (engraved by J. Nutting), Aubrey, last earl of Oxford, and James Graham, marquess of Montrose;even a portrait of Charles I. in armour, with his hand on his helmet, is credited to Walker. Two versions, of a like size, of his own portrait exist, one at the National Portrait Gallery and the other at Oxford, engraved by Peter Lombart, and again, later, by T. Chambars. The Cromwell in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery- is a copy. Walker's copy of Titian's famous " Venus at her Toilet," highly esteemed by Charles I., is considered a work of great merit.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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