History of the Room

The Portraits

Hung around the room are portraits of the Verney family, who owned Compton Verney from 1435 to 1921, which were painted around 1710 by the fashionable, Swedish-born portrait painter Michael Dahl (c.1659-1743).

Dahl came to England in 1680, where he learned much from the court painter Sir Godfrey Kneller. From 1696 he lived near the Swedish Legation in London’s Leicester Fields (now Leicester Square). (In 1698 he was offered the position of painter to the court of the Swedish king, Charles XII, but preferred to stay in London.) A talented and prolific portraitist who built up a substantial practice painting British aristocrats, his difficult character prevented him from succeeding Kneller as court painter on the latter’s death in 1723.

The family portraits here include the celebrated and much-engraved depiction of Greville Verney, the son of the Hon John Verney (d 1707), who himself was the eldest son of Richard, 11th Baron Willoughby de Broke (1622-1711).

Above the fireplace hangs the fine three-quarter-length portrait of Richard Verney (1621-1711) by John Riley (1646-91). Richard inherited Compton Verney on the death of his fifteen-year-old great-nephew, William, in 1683, was knighted in 1685, and in 1694 laid claim to the then-dormant barony of Willoughby de Broke. Following a House of Lords ruling in his favour in 1695, he formally assumed the title of 11th Baron Willoughby de Broke.

London-born John Riley was a favourite painter of the late Stuart monarchs and, in 1688, was appointed (jointly with Godfrey Kneller) court painter to William III and Mary II.

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