Bernard Mandeville M.D.

 Adopted as Bernard Mandeville

Provenance of the portrait NPG 1261, a research project

On March 4th, 2009, we encountered by chance a portrait, which immediately struck us because of its resemblance to the two images of Mandeville, which we had known for many years. The shock of recognition lead to an article ‘Dat moet portret Mandeville zijn' in the Dutch newspaper Trouw (12-03-2009). The portrait is in the National Portrait Gallery in London, nr 1261. Its artist is John Closterman (1660-1711). The painting is dated between 1702-1705.  See NPG. As for James Thornhill (1675-1734), father-in-law of Hogarth, mentioned on the NPG website, see Wikipedia. See also NPG, Beningbrough Hall, Saloon. An interesting link concerning ‘Kloosterman' - in Dutch - is by Jacob Campo Weyerman, in Konstschilders’ (1729).

Here we will report  progress in the project of defining the identity of the sitter in this portrait, whom we believe to be Bernard Mandeville, until, of course, we’ ll find evidence to the contrary. Any help in this research project would be very much appreciated. Next we present the information we have got so far.

Will it ever be possible to find out with certainty whether it would be the sitter in this portrait is Bernard Mandeville? One way of research is to discover its provenance. 

1. What we do know is the provenance for NPG. This is stated to be the London art trade in 1900. Previously it had possibly been in the hands of Thomas Hamlet (1770-1853), the famous goldsmith and trader. For the portrait is cited in the catalogue of John Closterman’s work, by Malcolm Rogers in the 49th Walpole Society volume 1983, p. 267. And Rogers states that inscribed on the portrait’s stretcher in a ? mid-nineteenth-century hand is ‘Portrait of Sir James Thornhill Painted by Imself Late the Property (of) Mr Hamlet’. But this portrait is not identifiable in any of Hamlet’s sales, 1833-41. James Thornhill (1675-1734), father-in-law of William Hogarth, is certainly not the sitter.

2. In 1899 the Wellcome Library in London purchased a manuscript (MS 3415) by Michael de Mandeville (1639-1699), the father of Bernard Mandeville. It contains  ‘Notes of lectures at the Universities of Franeker and Nijmegen on the Institutes of Medicine, and on Cartesian Philosophy: in Latin. Holograph MS. by de Mandeville, written while a medical student.’ This manuscript must also have been in Bernard Mandeville’s estate, that was split up (see below). 

As for its provenance, we quote from Wellcome Library’s entry:- Early 19th cent. vellum binding. Margins slightly cropped in binding. The fly-leaves are watermarked 1824. - Signature of John Lee [1783-1866], antiquarian and scientist '. J. Lee Doctors Commons No. 390. Recovered Mr Wilson, London'.

3. The Hunterian Library of the University of Glasgow holds some books once possessed by Michael de Mandeville (father or great-grandfather), which must have been in Bernard Mandeville’s library. This collection was assembled by Dr William Hunter (1718-1783) and remained in London after his death - for the use of his nephew, Dr Matthew Baillie (1761-1823) - and finally came to the University in 1807.

4. Bernard Mandeville died in January 1733, his wife in April 1732. Michael Mandeville (1699-1769), their son, was the executor of Bernard Mandeville’s will.

Michael Mandeville died childless. From his will we know his executors: Jeremiah Wilder, confectioner, of Cheapside, and John Elliott of Kennington Lane. When Michael Mandeville died, he dwelled with Elliott in Elliott’s house. Supposing that Michael Mandeville kept both his father’s portrait and library, it may be inferred from his will that they would have belonged to the goods that Michael Mandeville bequeathed to the said Elliott. Who was this John Elliott?


This is what Bernard Mandeville looked like:

Bernard Mandeville    

These two images (woodcuts) appeared, in a much smaller size, in Mandeville’s Free Thoughts on Religion, the Church and National Happiness, edition 1720. We think that the image on the left was made after the NPG portrait shown above, dated about 1702-1705. Mandeville's image to the right may be dated later, just before the year 1720.


FALSE portraits

It is relevant to state that all other images on the internet which pretend to portray Bernard Mandeville (1670-1733), are FALSE. These false images, see below, show often Adam Smith or Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

 Adam Smith

 No Mandeville, but Adam Smith


No Mandeville, but Jean-Jacques Rousseau.