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Robert Streeter

(1621—1679) painter


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(bapt. London, 16 Dec. 1621; bur. London, 23 Apr. 1679).

English painter, appointed serjeant-painter to King Charles II in 1660. In the words of Sir Ellis Waterhouse, ‘he left no branch of painting untried and would have been a universal genius had he been endowed with the requisite talent’. The most important of his few surviving works is the allegorical ceiling painting of Truth Inspiring the Arts and Sciences (1668–9) in the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford. This is a heavy-handed work, but noteworthy as the most ambitious attempt at a piece of Baroque decoration by any Englishman before Thornhill (Streeter had travelled in Italy during the Commonwealth). His reputation was evidently high in his day, for Samuel Pepys in his celebrated Diary calls him a ‘famous history-painter’ who ‘lives very handsomely’, and Robert Whitehall, whose ability as a poet happily matched that of Streeter as a painter, eulogized the Sheldonian ceiling in the immortal lines ‘…future ages must confess they owe | To Streeter more than Michael Angelo’ (Urania, or a Description of the Painting of the Top of the Theatre at Oxford, 1669). Streeter's son, also called Robert (d1711), succeeded him as serjeant-painter.

Subjects: Art.


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