Sunman, William (DNB00)


SUNMAN or SONMANS, WILLIAM (d. 1708), portrait-painter, was one of the Netherland artists who followed Sir Peter Lely into England. After the death of Lely he obtained permission to paint the king's portrait, but, the work of John Riley [q. v.] being preferred to his, he retired to Oxford, where he found constant employment; there he always resided during term time, spending the rest of the year in London. He was commissioned by the university authorities to paint the series of portraits of founders now hung in ‘Duke Humphrey's’ library in the Bodleian. All the portraits are imaginary, ‘John Balliol’ being that of a blacksmith, and ‘Devorguilla’ that of Jenny Reeks, an Oxford apothecary's pretty daughter (Oxoniana, iii. 15, 16). At Wadham there is a portrait of a college servant named Mary George, aged 120, which was painted and presented by him. Sunman's portrait of Robert Morison [q. v.], the botanist, was engraved by Robert White as a frontispiece to his ‘Plantarum Historia Universalis Oxoniensis,’ 1680, for many of the plates in which work Sunman also made the drawings. He died in Greek Street, Soho, in July 1708, and was buried in St. Anne's churchyard on the 15th of that month.

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Vertue's manuscript collections in Brit. Mus. Add. MS. 23068, f. 39; Walpole's Anecdotes, ed. Dallaway and Wornum; Burial Reg. of St. Anne's, Westminster.]

F. M. O'D.