Portrait of Sir John Cheke (1514-1577), half-length, in a black doublet and fur-trimmed coat
oil on panel
1318 x 1038 in. (33.4 x 26.4 cm.)
The Dukes of Manchester, Kimbolton Castle, Huntingdonshire, and by descent to,
Alexander Drogo Montagu, 10th Duke of Manchester (1902-1977), and by inheritance to the present owner.
William Montagu, Court and society from Elizabeth to Anne : Edited from the papers at Kimbolton, London, 1864, p. 3.
Consuelo Montagu, Duchess of Manchester (1853-1909), Catalogue of the Pictures at Kimbolton Castle, p. 9, no. 60, as ‘Holbein’, in the Green Drawing Room.
R. Strong, Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, London, 1969, I, p. 49; II, p. 88.
London, The South Kensington Museum, The First Special Exhibition of National Portraits Ending with the Reign of King James the Second, April 1866, no. 154, as 'Hans Holbein'.
Leeds, The National Exhibition of Works of Art, 1868, no. 523.
London, The New Gallery, Exhibition of the Royal House of Tudor, 1890, no. 95, as ‘Hans Holbein’.
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Lot Essay

A classical scholar and statesman, Cheke was one of the foremost teachers and learned men of his age. He was the first Regius Professor of Greek at the University of Cambridge and played a great part in the revival of Greek learning in England. In 1544, through the patronage of Catherine Parr, Henry VIII’s sixth Queen, he was appointed tutor to Prince Edward, the future King Edward VI. Of strongly Reformist sympathy in religious affairs, his public career as Provost of King's College, Cambridge, Member of Parliament and briefly as Secretary of State, was brought to a close by the accession of Queen Mary in 1553, the year after he had been knighted by Edward VI. After going into voluntary exile abroad, he was later captured and imprisoned in 1556, and under the threat of burning made a forced public recantation and agreed to be received into the Church of Rome.

Cheke is thought to have been responsible for identifying the sitters in Holbein's celebrated group of portrait drawings from the album first documented in the collection of Edward VI in 1547, and now in the Royal Collection.

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