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Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), Social philosopher

For an inclusive account, see C. Fuller ed., The Old Radical: Representations of Jeremy Bentham, 1998 (University College, London).

1760-62
Painting by Thomas Frye, see NPG 196.

1789-90
Painting probably by Gainsborough Dupont, half length. University College, London, presented by Sir John Bowring 1866 (illus. C. Fuller ed., The Old Radical: Representations of Jeremy Bentham, 1998, pl.III). Bentham mentioned sitting in London to an unnamed artist in December 1789 (Corr. of Jeremy Bentham, IV, 1981, p 115) and in 1843 the portrait belonged to Bowring (Bentham, Works, X, 1843, p 223) who in 1866 attached a discursive label to the verso describing, inter alia, the history of the Frye portrait, NPG 196.

1805
Bust of ’Bentham Esq’ by Peter Turnerelli, exhibited RA 1805 (740).

1822
Silhouette by John Field, see NPG 3068.

On 17 February 1823 Bentham wrote that a second edition of his Moral Legislation (see NPG 413) was about to be published, ‘in which is a portrait which they made me sit for. It seems well engraved: I have seen it; and people say it is like ... The first of March, or the first of April, comes out a number of the European Magazine, with another portrait of me by another hand. Considerable expectations are entertained of this likeness. When you see a copy of a print of 'the House of Lords at the time of the Queen’s Trial’, in hand by Bowyer, ... you will, if Bowyer does not deceive me, see the phiz of your old friend ... No fewer than five times, within little more than a year, have I been plagued with people, to waste in this way’ (Bentham, Works, X, 1843, pp 535-36).

1823
Drawing by James Stephanoff, engraved J. G. Murray 1823, The House of Lords, during the Important Investigation of 1820 (the trial of Queen Caroline), including Bentham (standing far right) as one of 140 attendants (illus. R. J. B. Walker, National Portrait Gallery, Regency Portraits, II, pl.1590). A fictitious grouping.

Painting by William Derby, half-length seated, engraved J. Thomson 1823 (European Mag.; illus. John Joseph Merlin, Kenwood, 1985, A11). According to Bowring the portrait was ‘not a succesful one’ (Bentham, Works, X, 1843, p 536).

Painting by W. H. Worthington, half length, engraved by the artist 1823 (illus. A. Dawson, Portrait Sculpture, a catalogue of the British Museum collection, 2000, p 40); S. Freeman 1832 and S. Leith 1843.

1825
Painting by Aimée Pagès, half length. Private collection (from Christie’s, 26 June 1914, lot 41). Anon. lithograph 1825 (Jéremie Bentham). Bentham, who had been made an honorary French citizen in 1792, was in Paris September-October 1825 and on 1 November he wrote that the portrait ‘is to be exhibited one year in Paris, the next in London and then lapse to me’ (C. Fuller ed., The Old Radical: Representations of Jeremy Bentham, 1998, p 38).

Marble bust by P-J. David d’Angers, undraped, inscribed: A JEREMIE BENTHAM/PLVRIORVM MAXIMA FELICITAS. Senate House, University of London. Exhibited RA 1829 (1180). A bronze belongs to University College, London (illus. C. Fuller ed., The Old Radical: Representations of Jeremy Bentham, 1998, pp 11, 39) and a plaster is in the musée des Beaux-Arts, Angers. Copied as a medallion by John Wilson (the partner of William Tassie), exhibited RA 1833 (1047), see J. M. Gray, James and William Tassie, a biographical and critical sketch with a catalogue of their portrait medallions of modern personages, 1984, no.35. Gray also recorded a version in Wedgwood paste, otherwise unrecorded.

c.1825
Unattributed bronze bust, with his own long hair. British Museum (MLA 1897.4.15.1; A. Dawson, Portrait Sculpture, A catalogue of the British Museum collection 2000, no.6) bought in 1897 with other Bentham material from Sir Joseph Hooker (see NPG 3068). Resembling the engraving by Worthington (see 1823 above).

1827
Drawing by R. M. Sully, half length. Harvard Law School. Engraved anon. (illus. C. Fuller ed., The Old Radical: Representations of Jeremy Bentham, 1998, p 42). Other versions include a traced copy, also in the Harvard Law School, and an engraving by C. W. Appleby showing bookshelves behind. A second drawing by Sully made in 1827, a slight sketch of Bentham seated writing, is in the British Museum (1909.6.1.1; illus. C. Fuller ed., The Old Radical: Representations of Jeremy Bentham, 1998, p 42).

1828
Bronze medallion by P-J. David d’Angers (illus. C. Fuller ed., The Old Radical: Representations of Jeremy Bentham, 1998, pp 40-41; J. G. Reinis, Portrait Medallions of David d’Angers, 1999, no.69).

1829
Painting by H. W. Pickersgill, see NPG 413.

Posthumous
1832
Death mask. A cast in the Department of Anatomy, University of Edinburgh, from the Edinburgh Phrenological Society (Death Masks and Life Masks, Edinburgh University, [1988], p 8).

Bentham’s mummified head is in University College, London (illus. N. Harte & J. North, The World of University College, London, 1979, p 9).

Drawing by H. H. Pickersgill, of Bentham’s corpse, engraved W. Taylor (illus. C. Fuller ed., The Old Radical: Representations of Jeremy Bentham, 1998, p 51), see below. H. H. Pickersgill was the son of H. W. Pickersgill, see NPG 413.

Auto-icon, Bentham’s clothed skeleton with a wax head, seated, with a stick, wearing a high-crowned hat. University College, London, since 1850. Bentham’s will directed that his body should first be the subject of a lecture, then dissected and finally preserved, according to his essay ‘Auto-Icon; or, Farther uses of the Dead to the Living’; the process was completed by 1833, the body set in the attitude ‘in which I am sitting when engaged in thought’ (see C. Fuller ed., The Old Radical: Representations of Jeremy Bentham, 1998, pp 9-14, 51-52).

Commemorative medal by T. Halliday (L. Brown, A Catalogue of British Historical Medals 1760-1960: The Accession of George III to the Death of William IV, 1980, no.1568).

1837
Drawing by Margaret Gillies, half length, engraved for the Monthly Repository 1837 (illus. C. Yeldham, Gillies, 1997, pp 24, 156). Probably made from the auto-icon which was kept in her studio for sometime before 1850.

Drawing by G. F. Watts made from the auto-icon (see 1832), seated beneath a tree. Queen’s College, Oxford (Mrs R. L. Poole, Catalogue of Portraits in the possession of the University, Colleges and City and County of Oxford, II, p 134; illus. C. Fuller ed., The Old Radical: Representations of Jeremy Bentham, 1998, p.53). Exhibited Third and concluding exhibition of National Portraits (fortieth year of the reign of George the third to MDCCCLXVII), South Kensington, 1868 (250). Engraved (half length) J. Posselwhite c.1835 (illus. C. Fuller ed., The Old Radical: Representations of Jeremy Bentham, 1998, p 54). Watts later described this as having been painted when he was ‘a mere lad’ (MS notes by Mrs Watts; NPG archive).

From his drawing Watts made a sketch in oil (University College, London; illus. Fuller 1998, p 20, pl.VI) and there are two finished paintings: one sold Christie’s, 8 June 1956, lot 126 (exactly agreeing with the drawing), the other, with a slightly different waistcoat and showing binding at the bottom of the trousers, last sold Christie’s, 14 July 1994, lot 88.

1869
Bust by Joseph Durham. Burlington House, London (façade; illus. C. Fuller ed., The Old Radical: Representations of Jeremy Bentham, 1998, p 46).

1922
Mural by Henry Tonks, The Founders of University College, showing Bentham receiving the plans for University College from the architect William Wilkins (a fictitious episode). Flaxman Gallery, University College, London. An elaborate tempera sketch and several preparatory drawings also belong to the College (illus. C. Fuller ed., The Old Radical: Representations of Jeremy Bentham, 1998, pp 48-49, pl.V).

Doubtful Portraits
Painting by Andrew Geddes in Queen’s College, Oxford (Mrs R. L. Poole, Catalogue of Portraits in the possession of the University, Colleges and City and County of Oxford, 1925, III, p 134), and a version in a private collection, possibly show William Tooke (1777-1863).



This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Ingamells, National Portrait Gallery: Mid-Georgian Portraits 1760-1790, National Portrait Gallery, 2004, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.