John Vanderbank was a portrait painter, born in London in 1764. He first studied painting with his father, John Vanderbank Senior, and portraitist Jonathon Richardson, and in 1711 was sent to study as one of Godfrey Kneller’s first pupils at the Academy of Painting.
In 1720 he started his own academy in St Martins Lane with French painter and illustrator, Louis Chéron. One of the most notable students of this academy was the painter and political satirist William Hogarth, who is often thought to have been his closest rival. With a style following on from the grandeur of his teacher Kneller, a modelling technique influenced by Van Dyck, and tonal effects derived from Rubens, Vanderbank was certainly never short of patronage. He was greatly skilled as a portraitist and, in the words of engraver George Vertue, ‘only intemperance prevented Vanderbank from being the greatest portraitist of his generation’. He also turned his hand to engraving, producing a set of illustrations for a version of the Spanish work Don Quixote, under the patronage of Lord Carteret in 1738.
Vanderbank’s career, however, was greatly affected by his somewhat extravagant lifestyle. In 1729 he fled to France to escape from his debt, but was imprisoned upon his return. Vanderbank died of consumption aged 45 in 1739, perhaps never having reached his full potential and never gaining the reputation that his talent could have earned him.