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William Martin Leake

(1777-1860), Classical topographer and numismatist

Sitter in 1 portrait
Leake made extensive exploratory journeys around Greece for the British army during the Napoleonic wars. In 1802 he embarked on Lord Elgin's ship, Mentor, as it headed for England with some of the Parthenon marbles, narrowly escaping drowning when the ship sank. Following this period of adventure, he devoted his life to antiquarianism and numismatics. Much of Leak’s scholarship draws upon observations made on the spot, often in conditions of haste and physical danger. Between 1814 and 1856, he published works sympathetic to the cause and dignity of newly independent Greece, covering topography, history and socio-economics. He helped establish the Royal Society of Literature and the Royal Geographic Society.

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William Martin Leake, by Christian Albrecht Jensen - NPG 6481

William Martin Leake

by Christian Albrecht Jensen
oil on canvas, 1838
On display in the Room 24 wallcase at the National Portrait Gallery
NPG 6481


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