Sir Humphry Davy, Bt
12 of 26 portraits on display in Room 18 at the National Portrait Gallery
Sir Humphry Davy, Bt
by Henry Howard
oil on canvas, 1803
50 1/2 in. x 40 1/2 in. (1283 mm x 1029 mm)
Click on the links below to find out more:
Artistback to top
- Henry Howard (1769-1847), Painter. Artist associated with 28 portraits, Sitter in 3 portraits.
This portraitback to top
Davy was a close friend of Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey and from them he absorbed the concept of 'Romantic genius' to which he aspired. With good looks and entrepreneurial flair, He was one of a new breed of celebrity scientists whose experiments, at the newly established Royal Institution, were so charismatic that they became social events. Witnessing these, Mary Shelley took Davy as the model for Dr Frankenstein the scientist who holds the terrifying secret of life-giving power.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Audio Guide
- Hackmann, W.D., Apples and Atoms: Portraits of Scientists from Newton to Rutherford, 1986, p. 37
- Holmes, Richard; Crane, David; Woof, Robert; Hebron, Stephen, Romantics and Revolutionaries: Regency portraits from the National Portrait Gallery, 2002, p. 151
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 168
- Walker, Richard, Regency Portraits, 1985, p. 1794
Subjects & Themesback to top
Events of 1803back to top
Current affairsThe Vice Society is formally established by John Reeves and his associates to campaign against blasphemy and immorality, particularly that perpetrated by Thomas Paine and the Edinburgh Review.
Art and scienceErasmus Darwin's Temple of Nature published posthumously. A scientific treaty in the form of an elaborate couplet poem, its content anticipated some of the evolutionary ideas developed by his grandson, Charles Darwin, fifty years later.
Construction of the Caledonian Canal begins.
InternationalWar with France resumes, sparking new fears of a cross-channel invasion.
United Irishman, Robert Emmett's attempted uprising in Dublin. Planned to coincide with Napoleon's expected invasion, it aimed to overthrow the English administration but ended in failure. Emmett is hanged along with several other conspirators.