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CLARKE, Samuel.
Portrait of Samuel Clarke D.D. [1675-1729] attributed to THOMAS GIBSON [c.1680-1751], oil painting on canvas - 76.20 x 63.50 cms. (30 x 25 ins.) - framed in a later gilt gesso frame - inscribed upper right 'Samuel Clarke D.D. Rector of St James's Westm', and below 'DR. SAMUEL CLARKE'.

The painting has been cleaned at some time - the frame has two small pieces of damage to the plaster ornament, otherwise in overall very good condition.


*SAMUEL CLARKE [1675–1729], theologian and philosopher, was born on 11 October 1675 at Norwich, the son of Edward Clarke, cloth manufacturer and MP, and Hannah, daughter of Samuel Parmenter, a merchant of Norwich. Clarke was educated at the Norwich Free Grammar School (1685–90) and at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, a college with strong Norfolk connections. At Cambridge, where he matriculated in 1691, he laid the foundations for the encyclopaedic knowledge for which he was famed in later life. He was noted for the range of his interests and his attempt to span all fields of knowledge in an age when science, and learning more generally, were increasingly becoming the province of the expert. At Caius, wrote Arthur Sykes, one of his later admirers, he 'excell'd in natural Philosophy, in Mathematicks, in Divinity, in Critique [classical studies], as if he had made but one of them his sole study' (Elogium, 1, in Whiston, Historical Memoirs). Clarke first made his mark in the area of natural philosophy. In the disputation held at the completion of his bachelor studies in 1695 he ably defended a proposition drawn from Newton's Principia, a work then understood by few, even within Newton's own university. This performance helped earn for him a fellowship at Caius, a post that he held from 1696 to 1700. His interest in natural philosophy owed much to his tutor at Caius, John Ellis. Although Ellis was a friend of Newton, at this time he largely based his teaching on the more readily accessible Cartesian system. He asked Clarke to translate into Latin Rohault's Traité de physique—a popular French textbook of Cartesian natural philosophy—for the use of students. Clarke responded to the request by including a series of notes based on Newtonianism amending the Cartesian views of the original. As this work passed through three editions (1697, 1702, and 1710) the text and the notes became ever more at variance, so that 'Clarke's Rohault' was to play a major part in the eclipse of Cartesian natural philosophy and its replacement by Newtonianism within Cambridge. Clarke's interest in Newtonianism helped to secure the friendship of his fellow Cambridge graduate William Whiston, Newton's eventual successor as Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge. Whiston passed on to Clarke about 1698 the position of chaplain to Bishop Moore of Norwich, a scholar whose range of interests paralleled those of Clarke and who recognized the latter's considerable talents. The bishop's good standing as a staunch defender of the protestant succession made him a valuable patron—an early manifestation of his goodwill towards Clarke being the bestowal upon him of the rectorship of Drayton, near Norwich. Clarke then married Katherine Lockwood, daughter of the rector of Little Maningham in Norfolk. The marriage produced seven children, five of whom lived to adulthood, though the only one of whom there is any record is his namesake, Samuel Clarke FRS, who, thanks to Clarke's Whig connections, obtained the sinecure of king's waiter in the port of London. SEE : John Gascoigne DNB THOMAS GIBSON [c.1680–1751], portrait painter, is of obscure origins. He was appointed a founder director of Godfrey Kneller's academy in London in 1711. According to the painter Thomas Highmore, Sir James Thornhill sometimes applied to Gibson to sketch for him in his large pictures figures in action. Vertue, who was on terms of great friendship with Gibson and who was one of his pupils at Godfrey Kneller's academy, recorded that other artists were offended with Gibson because he refused to raise his prices. He also stated that due to serious illness he was obliged to sell his pictures privately among his friends about 1729–30 and to retire from practice to Oxford. He subsequently returned to London about 1732 and is said to have resumed his practice. He died in London on 28 April 1751, aged about seventy-one. At the Society of Antiquaries there is a portrait of Vertue by Gibson, painted in 1723 (engraved by Vertue himself); at the Royal Society a portrait of John Flamsteed the astronomer. A number of his portraits are in Oxford, including portraits of Flamsteed and John Locke (Bodl. Oxf.) and a portrait of Archbishop Wake (Christ Church picture gallery). His last recorded works are a portrait of Augusta, princess of Wales, and a group portrait of her children, painted in 1742. Many of his portraits were engraved by J. Faber, J. Simon, G. White, G. Vertue, and others, including those of Sir Robert Walpole, Admiral Sir Charles Wager, Dr Henry Sacheverell (1710; Magdalen College, Oxford), Robert, Lord Molesworth, and the Revd Samuel Clarke. Further examples of Gibson's work are in the collections of the Society of Antiquaries, the National Maritime Museum, Lambeth Palace, the Royal Society, and Orleans House Gallery, London; and the Bodleian Library, Christ Church, and Magdalen College, Oxford. L. H. Cust, DNB

Date Published:

Stock No. 63101

Price: £3,000.00