Sir William Herschel
1 of 26 portraits on display in Room 18 at the National Portrait Gallery
Sir William Herschel
by Lemuel Francis Abbott
oil on canvas, 1785
30 in. x 25 in. (762 mm x 635 mm)
Click on the links below to find out more:
Artistback to top
- Lemuel Francis Abbott (circa 1760-1802), Portrait painter. Artist associated with 77 portraits, Sitter in 1 portrait.
This portraitback to top
Herschel sat for this portrait on the encouragement of his friend, the naturalist, Sir William Watson: 'When you are in town on full moon nights you may perhaps spare an hour early in the morning, & may sit three or four times running - & the thing may in this way be done without much inconvenience or loss of time'. According to his sister Caroline, Abbott's portrait was a good likeness of the man who claimed 'I have looked further into space than any human being did before me.'
Related worksback to top
Linked publicationsback to top
- Hackmann, W.D., Apples and Atoms: Portraits of Scientists from Newton to Rutherford, 1986, p. 30
- Holmes, Richard, The Romantic Poets and Their Circle, 2013, p. 85
- Holmes, Richard, Insights: The Romantic Poets and Their Circle, 2005, p. 71
- Jordanova, Ludmilla, Defining Features: Scientific and Medical Portraits 1660-2000, 2000 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 14 April to 17 September 2000), p. 110
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 300
- Walker, Richard, Regency Portraits, 1985, p. 247
Subjects & Themesback to top
Events of 1785back to top
Current affairsGeorge Prince of Wales secretly marries his mistress Maria Fitzherbert in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act of 1772.
Prime Minister William Pitt introduces a bill proposing parliamentary reform and the abolition of 'rotten boroughs' but is defeated.
Art and scienceWilliam Cowper publishes his best -known poem The Task.
James Boswell publishes The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, narrating his travels with the late writer Samuel Johnson.
Physician and naturalist James Hutton presents his studies of local rocks to the Royal Society of Edinburgh, launching the era of scientific geology.
InternationalWarren Hastings resigns as Governor-General of Bengal and returns to England. His trial begins on charges of corruption in the administration of India.
French sculptor Jean Antoine Houdon crosses the Atlantic to sculpt a statue of George Washington.
British government establishes a permanent land force in the Eastern Caribbean, based in Barbados.