Sir Isaac Newton, studio of Enoch Seeman, circa 1726-1730 - NPG 558 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Sir Isaac Newton

studio of Enoch Seeman
oil on canvas, circa 1726-1730
50 in. x 58 1/4 in. (1270 mm x 1480 mm)
Transferred from British Museum, 1879
NPG 558

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Peter Nockolds

23 April 2016, 21:47

Further to the above the beam of light which falls on the globe corresponds to the unopened copy of the Optics. It falls on the point of heaven which represents the apples of the Hesperides, corresponding to the well-known story of the discovery of gravity. And the copy of the Principia is open at a section relating to the attraction dealing with 'The Attractive Forces of Spherical Bodies'. In other copies of this portrait the Principia is open in different sections. This rather suggests that, contrary to Keynes, this is the master copy of the portrait.

Peter Nockolds

22 April 2016, 05:30

The celestial globe is very unusual in that the celestial pole is horizontal. Twelve lines can becseen radiating from the pole of the ecliptic, surrounded by the constellation Draco. These lines will cross the ecliptic, the apparent path of the sun through heaven, to form the twelve signs of the zodiac. This must refer to Newton's work on chronology in which he discusses the origin of the zodiac: an unauthorised abridgement of his chronology appeared in Paris in 1725. It's interesting that Seeman feels able to refer to it. This bears comparison with Newton's monument in Westminster Abbey. I may be able to send more info if you are interested. (sent from Moscow)

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