Thursday, February 15, 2007

Michael Alphonsus Shen Futsung, 'The Chinese Convert' (d.1691)

Sir Godfrey Kneller (b. 1646, Lübeck, d. 1723, London)
Michael Alphonsus Shen Futsung, 'The Chinese Convert' (d.1691)
Oil on canvas, 212,1 x 132
Royal Collection, Windsor

Sir Godfrey Kneller (b. 1646, Lübeck, d. 1723, London)(originally Gottfried Kniller) settled in England and became the leading portraitist there in the late 17th century and early 18th century.

He moved to England, probably in the mid 1670s. He was the dominant court and society painter by the beginning of the reign of James II (1685). He was appointed Principal Painter jointly with Riley on the accession of William III and Mary II in 1689.

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.

The painting can be categorised either as a religious picture or as a portrait.

See also The Royal Collection website where the picture can be magnified and examined in greater detail.