Portrait of Sir John Griffin Griffin

Painting Conservation

Essex Heritage Trust awarded a grant to English Heritage for the conservation of this portrait.

Sir John Griffin Griffin (1719-1797) was owner of Audley End from 1762 until his death in 1797. A distinguished soldier, Griffin put his stamp on Audley End by bringing noted architects and designers such as ‘Capability’ Brown and Robert Adam to the house. He also amassed an impressive collection of art, which is today one of the finest in Essex.

Audley End was one of the greatest houses of early 17th-century England, and still stands as one of the most significant houses in the County of Essex. Between about 1605 and 1614, Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk, took an earlier house created by his grandfather and rebuilt it on the scale of a royal palace. So grand was it that about 50 years later Charles II bought it as a ready-made palace. But the Howards bought Audley End back in 1701, and gradually reduced it to a more manageable size. The neoclassical architect and interior designer, Robert Adam, redecorated a suite of rooms in the 1760s for Sir John Griffin Griffin. At the same time, Sir John commissioned ‘Capability’ Brown to sweep away the remains of the formal landscape and create one of England’s finest landscape gardens, which can still be seen today.

The portrait, recently acquired by English Heritage, is a copy of a painting by Francis Lemuel Abbot in the Audley collection. It was probably painted by the artist Parker, as elements of the technique such as the matte surface and zig-zag brushstrokes are similar to other portraits by him at Audley End.

The portrait has been transported back to Audley End and placed on public display in the Neville Dressing Room. Appropriately, this was a room created by Sir John Griffin Griffin when he built a first floor extension in the 1770s, to create two new dressing rooms. Accompanying the portrait is a new information panel.