William Byrd II
Original Author: Sir Godfrey Kneller
Created: ca. 1700–1704
Medium: Oil on canvas
Publisher: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

William Byrd II

William Byrd II gestures with his right hand toward a distant scene in this three-quarter-length oil portrait made in London between 1700 and 1704. This painting was executed by Sir Godfrey Kneller, the royal court's official painter and the most important portraitist in England in the the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Byrd hung this canvas at Westover, his family's plantation house on the James River in Charles City County. Over the years, he exhibited more than thirty portraits of family members and friends in the manor house, an extraordinary display in that time and place.