Heads of Illustrious Persons of Great Britain, Knapton, London, 1734-1752
Sir Walter Ralegh (1552-1618), A poet, writer, explorer, soldier, sailor, courtier and favorite of the Queen, Raleigh was a true "Renaissance Man". Much of his literary work is lost, but about thirty short poems and various prose works survive, including History of the World. He organised and financed a number of expeditions to North America, and in later life made several unsuccessful attempts to find gold in South America.
Ralegh was accused of plotting against James I, and spent much of his reign in the Tower. He was executed for treason in 1618.
Jacobus Houbraken was a Dutch engraver, who was born in Dordrecht. He learned the art of engraving from his father, Arnold Houbraken (1660-1719), and devoted himself almost entirely to portraiture. His work became famous through his collaboration with the historian Thomas Birch and artist George Vertue, on the project entitled, Heads of Illustrious Persons of Great Britain, published in parts in London from 1743 to 1752, and from which our plates come.
His oeuvre of more than 400 portrait engravings form an important record for art provenance.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Jacobus Houbraken. Biographical sketches of subjects are from The National Portrait Gallery, UK.