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William Godwin

11 of 26 portraits on display in Room 18 at the National Portrait Gallery

William Godwin, by James Northcote, 1802 - NPG 1236 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

William Godwin

by James Northcote
oil on canvas, 1802
29 1/2 in. x 24 1/2 in. (749 mm x 622 mm)
Bequeathed by Jane, Lady Shelley, 1899
Primary Collection
NPG 1236


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Sitterback to top

  • William Godwin (1756-1836), Philosopher and novelist. Sitter in 13 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • James Northcote (1746-1831), Painter; pupil and biographer of Sir Joshua Reynolds. Artist associated with 103 portraits, Sitter associated with 23 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Godwin liked Northcote's portrait, describing it as 'The principal memorandum of my corporal existence that will remain after my death.' With the light hitting the philosopher's temples, Northcote symbolised Godwin's belief in progress based on reason.

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