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Charles Darwin

10 of 21 portraits on display in Room 27 at the National Portrait Gallery

Charles Darwin, copy by John Collier, 1883 (1881) - NPG 1024 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Charles Darwin

copy by John Collier
oil on canvas, 1883 (1881)
49 1/2 in. x 38 in. (1257 mm x 965 mm)
Given by the sitter's son, William Erasmus Darwin, 1896
Primary Collection
NPG 1024


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Sitterback to top

  • Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882), Naturalist, geologist and originator of the theory of evolution. Sitter in 32 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • John Collier (1850-1934), Portrait painter and writer on art. Artist associated with 21 portraits, Sitter in 7 portraits.

This portraitback to top

This portrait of Charles Darwin, the great scientist and author of On the Origin of Species, is a copy by the artist of a portrait undertaken by John Collier for the Linnaean Society. Collier was himself the son-in-law of another prominent late Victorian scientist, Thomas Henry Huxley. The portrait was presented to the Gallery by Darwin's eldest son, William Erasmus Darwin, who wrote to Lionel Cust in 1896: 'The picture is a replica of the one in the rooms in the Linnaean Society and was made by Collier after the original. I took some trouble about it and as a likeness it is an improvement on the original.' It shows Darwin as an old man in the year before his death. According to Darwin's third son, Francis, 'The portrait represents him standing facing the observer in the loose cloak so familiar to those who knew him and with his slouch hat in his hand. Many of those who knew his face most intimately, think that Mr Collier's picture is the best of the portraits and in this judgement the sitter himself was inclined to agree.'

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