Gottfried Kniller, whose name was anglicized into Godfrey Kneller, was born in Lbeck, but lived nearly all his life outside Germany. Trained under Rembrandt's pupil Ferdinand Bol, he went to Italy in 1672 where he probably joined the studio of Maratta. Subsequently he worked in Venice and Hamburg before he arrived in England circa 1675, where he became rapidly the leading portrait painter. He was made court painter in 1688 by William III, predominantly working in the style of his predecessor (and competitor before 1680) Sir Peter Lely. Like others whose duty was to portray the English royalty Kneller was knighted in 1692 and was, more exceptionally, made baronet in 1715.
The present lot was painted two years before the end of his life with many studio assistance. He executed several other portraits of King George I, the first King of the House of Hanover, who was succeeded the throne in 1714. The present portrait, a large scale state portrait, was not known to J. Douglas Stewart, since it is not listed in his Sir Godfrey Kneller and the English Baroque Portrait, 1983.