2 of 28 portraits of Michael Faraday
by Thomas Phillips
oil on canvas, 1841-1842
35 3/4 in. x 28 in. (908 mm x 711 mm)
Click on the links below to find out more:
Artistback to top
- Thomas Phillips (1770-1845), Portrait painter. Artist associated with 215 portraits, Sitter in 4 portraits.
This portraitback to top
Born the son of a blacksmith and largely self-taught, Faraday became one of the greatest of all scientists and his discoveries continue to affect our lives today. He received his scientific education working as the assistant of Sir Humphry Davy at the Royal Institution. It was there, on 29 August 1831, that he made his greatest discovery: electromagnetic induction. This breakthrough led to a series of experiments carried out over the following ten weeks which are now acknowledged as the basis of modern electrical technology. This portrait shows him with two essential pieces of laboratory equipment: on the left is a Cruikshank battery of the sort he used in his electrical experiments, while on the right flames indicate the furnace which was necessary for a range of laboratory work at this time.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Audio Guide
- Victorian Portraits Resource Pack, p. 20
- Funnell, Peter, Victorian Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery Collection, 1996, p. 20
- Funnell, Peter (introduction); Marsh, Jan, A Guide to Victorian and Edwardian Portraits, 2011, p. 21
- Hackmann, W.D., Apples and Atoms: Portraits of Scientists from Newton to Rutherford, 1986, p. 50
- Hart-Davis, Adam, Chain Reactions, 2000, p. 170
- Ormond, Richard, Early Victorian Portraits, 1973, p. 168
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 213
- Various contributors, National Portrait Gallery: A Portrait of Britain, 2014, p. 138
Subjects & Themesback to top
Events of 1841back to top
Current affairsSir Robert Peel's second term as Prime Minister. Peel replaces the Whig Prime Minister Lord Melbourne after a Conservative general election victory. The English comic periodical Punch is first published, under the auspices of engraver Ebenezer Landells and writer Henry Mayhew, and quickly establishes itself as a radical commentary on the arts, politics and current affairs, notable for its heavily satirised cartoons.
Art and scienceThomas Carlyle publishes his set of lectures On Heroes and Hero Worship, in which he attempts to connect past heroic figures to significant figures form the present. William Henry Fox Talbot invents the calotype process, in which photographs were developed from negatives. This allowed for multiple copies of images to be made, and was the basis of modern, pre-digital, photographic processing.
InternationalSigning of the Straits Convention, an international agreement between Britain, France, Prussia, Austria, Russia and Turkey, denying access to non-Ottoman warships through the seas connecting the Mediterranean and the Black Seas, a major concession by Russia. Whilst signalling a spirit of co-operation, the convention emphasises the decline of the Ottoman Empire.
See this portrait
On display in Room 27 at the National Portrait Gallery