1816. Oil on canvas. 91 x 71 cm. Private collection. Read Note.
John Julius Angerstein (1785? - 1823) -- wealthy merchant, financier and patron of the arts. He was born in St. Petersburg, Russia. His parentage is unknown, but it has been suggested that he was the illegitimate child of Russian nobility -- perhaps even royalty. He was adopted by the English merchant Andrew Poulett Thompson, and became a successful businessman. Served as chairman of Lloyd’s 1790 to 1796, and was instrumental in the company’s development.
He used his immense wealth to collect art, amassing an impressive collection of Old Masters. After his death, his collection was purchased by the British government and became the nucleus of the National Gallery.