Kneller, Sir Godfrey

  Kneller shared with John Riley the post of Principal Painter to William III and Mary II; previously he had received commissions from the courts of Charles II and James II and was subsequently served the courts of Queen Anne and George I. He was knighted by William III in 1692 and granted a baronetcy by George I in 1715. His most sustained work for the English court was the series of portraits of fourteen naval commanders, painted with Michael Dahl for Queen Anne and Prince George of Denmark.

Kneller -The Chinese Convert

The sitter (Michael Alphonsus Shen Fu-Tsung) was born of Chinese Christian parents and came to Europe at the instigation of Father Philip Couplet, Procurator of the China Jesuits in Rome. After leaving Macao in 1681 they travelled together in Italy, France and England. Shen Fu-Tsung left England in 1688 for Lisbon where he entered the Society of Jesus. He died near Mozambique on his way back to China in 1691.

Shen Fu-Tsung seems to have been a well-known figure at the English court and his portrait was painted for James II. When the king visited Oxford in September 1687, Shen Fu-Tsung was the subject of conversation at the Bodleian Library, where the sitter had apparently helped to catalogue the Chinese manuscripts.