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Michael Faraday

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

Michael Faraday, by Thomas Phillips, 1841-1842 - NPG 269 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Michael Faraday

by Thomas Phillips
oil on canvas, 1841-1842
35 3/4 in. x 28 in. (908 mm x 711 mm)
Purchased, 1868
Primary Collection
NPG 269


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  • Thomas Phillips (1770-1845), Portrait painter. Artist associated with 215 portraits, Sitter in 4 portraits.

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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.

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