This portrait was among several that Geekie made to memorialise significant intellectual affiliations. Geekie was a London-based Scottish physician and amateur artist, who assembled a collection of portraits of philosophers and scientists. Geekie corresponded frequently with the philosopher John Locke and wrote to him on 26 February 1703 that 'Sir G.Kneller has been so kind to let me have that Picture he did of you upon some consideration'. Given the date of Geekie's pastel, it was surely drawn after news of Locke's death had reached him in 1704.
Geekie subscribed to the Great Queen Street Academy on its foundation in 1711 and this was doubtless where he met Vertue, who joined in 1713, for he engraved the Kneller portrait of Locke in that year. In 1742 Vertue recorded the fact that Ranelagh Barret had also copied the portrait, when in the possession of Geekie's son. It later belonged to Sir Robert Walpole and is now at the Hermitage Museum. Vertue also noted that Geekie owned the portrait of Inigo Jones by Van Dyck which is now in the Hermitage Museum, which he acquired from John Webb's daughter-in-law. Geekie also owned a portrait by Isaac Fuller of the Dutch philosopher Van Helmont and a wax relief of 'an Eminent Apotecary' by Abraham Symonds, and had offered £50 for a portrait of Locke by Greenhill but was turned down. Among other pastel copies that Geekie made were portraits of Erasmus and the physician and anatomist Walter Needham. These two and the portrait of Locke described here were the 'three crayon portraits' that Geekie's son John bequeathed to his own son, and which were later in the collection of the pastellist Francis Cotes.
- Quoted in eds Larissa Dukelskaya and Andrew Moore, A Capital Collection: Houghton Hall and the Hermitage, New Haven and London, 2002, p.298.
- Vertue VI, 168.
- eds Larissa Dukelskaya and Andrew Moore, A Capital Collection: Houghton Hall and the Hermitage, New Haven and London, 2002, p.298-9.
- Vertue, vol.I, 33, p.175; vol.V, p.62.
- Vertue, vol.I, pp.44, 73, 134.
- Neil Jeffares, Dictionary of Pastellists before 1800 (online edition, updated 2018).