John Locke(1632-1704), Philosopher
Sitter in 36 portraits
A philosopher of wide influence, Locke was forced to flee to Holland in 1684 because he was associated with the opposition to both King Charles II and King James II. On the accession to the throne of William and Mary, he returned to England and was made Commissioner of Appeals, in which role he acted as an advisor to the government. He was also a friend of Newton and Boyle and an active member of the Royal Society, which promoted scientific exploration. Alongside his philosophical work, he was involved in the founding of the English colony in Carolina and had financial interests in other colonial ventures such as the Bahamas Company and the Royal African Company, which had a monopoly over the Transatlantic Slave Trade. However, Locke’s theories about natural rights and liberties were important ideological sources for the anti-slavery movement in the following century.
Watch a film clip on the sitter from the BBC Archive in the Media section below
by John Simon
mezzotint, circa 1715-1724
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