4 of 34 portraits of Charles Robert Darwin
copy by John Collier
oil on canvas, 1883, based on a work of 1881
49 1/2 in. x 38 in. (1257 mm x 965 mm)
Given by the sitter's son, William Erasmus Darwin, 1896
Sitterback to top
- Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882), Naturalist, geologist and originator of the theory of evolution. Sitter in 34 portraits.
Artistback to top
- John Collier (1850-1934), Portrait painter and writer on art. Artist associated with 21 portraits, Sitter in 7 portraits.
This portraitback to top
This portrait of Charles Darwin, the great scientist and author of On the Origin of Species, is a copy by the artist of a portrait undertaken by John Collier for the Linnaean Society. Collier was himself the son-in-law of another prominent late Victorian scientist, Thomas Henry Huxley. The portrait was presented to the Gallery by Darwin's eldest son, William Erasmus Darwin, who wrote to Lionel Cust in 1896: 'The picture is a replica of the one in the rooms in the Linnaean Society and was made by Collier after the original. I took some trouble about it and as a likeness it is an improvement on the original.' It shows Darwin as an old man in the year before his death. According to Darwin's third son, Francis, 'The portrait represents him standing facing the observer in the loose cloak so familiar to those who knew him and with his slouch hat in his hand. Many of those who knew his face most intimately, think that Mr Collier's picture is the best of the portraits and in this judgement the sitter himself was inclined to agree.'
Linked publicationsback to top
- National Portrait Gallery: 100 Portraits, p. 83
- Audio Guide
- Victorian Portraits Resource Pack, p. 21
- Cooper, John, A Guide to the National Portrait Gallery, 2009, p. 43
- Cooper, John, Visitor's Guide, 2000, p. 80
- Cooper, John, Great Britons: The Great Debate, 2002, p. 121
- Funnell, Peter, Victorian Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery Collection, 1996, p. 21
- Funnell, Peter (introduction); Marsh, Jan, A Guide to Victorian and Edwardian Portraits, 2011, p. 27
- Hackmann, W.D., Apples and Atoms: Portraits of Scientists from Newton to Rutherford, 1986, p. 55
- Hart-Davis, Adam, Chain Reactions, 2000, p. 123
- John Cooper, National Portrait Gallery Visitor's Guide, 2006, p. 80
- Parris, Matthew, Heroes and Villains: Scarfe at the National Portrait Gallery, 2003 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 30 September 2003 to 4 April 2004), p. 59
- Saumarez Smith, Charles, The National Portrait Gallery: An Illustrated Guide, 2000, p. 145
- Saumarez Smith, Charles, The National Portrait Gallery, 1997, p. 145
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 165
- Various contributors, National Portrait Gallery: A Portrait of Britain, 2014, p. 166
Subjects & Themesback to top
Events of 1881back to top
Current affairsBenjamin Disraeli dies of bronchitis. He refuses a state funeral and is buried next to his wife, Mary Ann Viscountess Beaconsfield.
Gladstone's Irish Land Act is passed in a bid to stop violence carried out by the republican Land League, conducted in protest at the 1870 Land Act.
Henry Mayers Hyndman forms the Marxist Democratic Federation.
Art and scienceThe Natural History Museum is opened on Exhibition Road, South Kensington. The museum, a landmark gothic design by the architect Alfred Waterhouse, was built to house specimens from the natural sciences, previously in the British Museum's collection. Today, the museum comprises of over 70 million items, and is a world-renowned research centre.
InternationalAlexander II is assassinated in a bomb attack by members of a left-wing revolutionary movement. He was succeeded by his son, Tsar Alexander III.
US President James Garfield is shot by Charles Guiteau.
The first Anglo-Boer war ends. The war is started by a Boer uprising, as the British had annexed the Transvaal in 1877. Following Britain's defeat at the Battle of Majuba Hill, a truce is signed giving the Boers self-government and later independence.
See this portrait
On display in Room 27 at the National Portrait Gallery