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Sir William Herschel

1 of 12 portraits of Sir William Herschel

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Sir William Herschel

by Lemuel Francis Abbott
oil on canvas, 1785
30 in. x 25 in. (762 mm x 635 mm)
Purchased, 1860
Primary Collection
NPG 98

On display in Room 16 on Floor 3 at the National Portrait Gallery

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Lemuel Francis Abbott (circa 1760-1802), Portrait painter. Artist or producer associated with 78 portraits, Sitter in 1 portrait.

This portraitback to top

Herschel sat for this portrait on the encouragement of his friend, the naturalist, Sir William Watson: 'When you are in town on full moon nights you may perhaps spare an hour early in the morning, & may sit three or four times running - & the thing may in this way be done without much inconvenience or loss of time'. According to his sister Caroline, Abbott's portrait was a good likeness of the man who claimed 'I have looked further into space than any human being did before me.'

Related worksback to top

  • NPG D14425: Sir William Herschel ('Gulielmus Herschel LL.D : RSS') (source portrait)
  • NPG D35724: Sir William Herschel ('Gulielmus Herschel LL.D : RSS') (source portrait)

Linked publicationsback to top

Events of 1785back to top

Current affairs

George Prince of Wales secretly marries his mistress Maria Fitzherbert in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act of 1772.
Prime Minister William Pitt introduces a bill proposing parliamentary reform and the abolition of 'rotten boroughs' but is defeated.

Art and science

William Cowper publishes his best -known poem The Task.
James Boswell publishes The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, narrating his travels with the late writer Samuel Johnson.
Physician and naturalist James Hutton presents his studies of local rocks to the Royal Society of Edinburgh, launching the era of scientific geology.

International

Warren Hastings resigns as Governor-General of Bengal and returns to England. His trial begins on charges of corruption in the administration of India.
French sculptor Jean Antoine Houdon crosses the Atlantic to sculpt a statue of George Washington.
British government establishes a permanent land force in the Eastern Caribbean, based in Barbados.

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