2 of 13 portraits of William Godwin
- Extended Catalogue Entry
by James Northcote
oil on canvas, 1802
29 1/2 in. x 24 1/2 in. (749 mm x 622 mm)
Bequeathed by Jane, Lady Shelley, 1899
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Artistback to top
- James Northcote (1746-1831), Painter; pupil and biographer of Sir Joshua Reynolds. Artist associated with 103 portraits, Sitter associated with 23 portraits.
This portraitback to top
Godwin liked Northcote's portrait, describing it as 'The principal memorandum of my corporal existence that will remain after my death.' With the light hitting the philosopher's temples, Northcote symbolised Godwin's belief in progress based on reason.
Related worksback to top
Linked publicationsback to top
- Holmes, Richard, The Romantic Poets and Their Circle, 2013, p. 45
- Holmes, Richard, Insights: The Romantic Poets and Their Circle, 2005, p. 34
- Holmes, Richard; Crane, David; Woof, Robert; Hebron, Stephen, Romantics and Revolutionaries: Regency portraits from the National Portrait Gallery, 2002, p. 49
- Ross, Josephine, Jane Austen and her World, 2017, p. 68
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 251
- Walker, Richard, Regency Portraits, 1985, p. 219
- Woof, Robert; Hebron, Stephen, Romantic Icons, 1999, p. 37
Events of 1802back to top
Current affairsAfter returning from Naples, Nelson tours England with the diplomat and antiquarian Sir William Hamilton and his wife Emma, with whom he was having an affair. With Nelson's status confirmed as a national hero, their reception outrivals that of the King.
Extensive strikes in government shipyards led by John Gast.
Art and scienceFrancis Jeffrey, MP and arbiter of literary taste, co-founds the Edinburgh Review, the influential Whig quarterly which voiced strong criticism of Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey.
The Exchange, where stocks were traded, is rebuilt to cope with an increase in business during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.
InternationalPeace of Amiens; Britain finally agrees to unpopular peace, leaving France the chief power in Europe and returning recent British colonial acquisitions.
Napoleon is declared First Consul of the French Empire for life.
English flock to see the international war plunder now on display at the Louvre in Paris.
See this portrait
On display in Room 18 at the National Portrait Gallery
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Help us conserve a portrait of a female adventurer, poet and medical pioneer