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John Dalton

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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John Dalton

by Thomas Phillips
oil on canvas, 1835
36 in. x 28 1/8 in. (914 mm x 714 mm)
Purchased, 1987
Primary Collection
NPG 5963

Sitterback to top

  • John Dalton (1766-1844), Chemist and natural philosopher. Sitter in 15 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Thomas Phillips (1770-1845), Portrait painter. Artist or producer associated with 216 portraits, Sitter in 4 portraits.

This portraitback to top

The portrait's frame is of a type frequently used by the artist.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Smartify image discovery app
  • Hart-Davis, Adam, Chain Reactions, 2000, p. 55
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 162
  • Simon, Jacob, The Art of the Picture Frame: Artists, Patrons and the Framing of Portraits in Britain, 1997 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 8 November 1996 - 9 February 1997), p. 102, 168 Read entry

    Gilt compo on pine, mitred with corner block, the sharpness of the punched ground reduced by regilding. 6 1⁄ 4 inches wide including slip.

    In the 1810s Thomas Phillips moved away from his early frame style to a much heavier, richer pattern in the manner of Lawrence's George IV (NPG 123). Phillips used this style, with slight variations, for the rest of his life as the many frames of the pattern in the National Portrait Gallery testify. Closest to Lawrence are the frames with prominent centres of shells and foliage set on a chequered ground as found, for example, at the National Portrait Gallery on Phillips's 1821 portrait of Sir Humphrey Davy and on other works of the 1810s and early 1820s. At the same time Phillips was using a similar pattern, but without centres, as on his portrait of Sir Francis Chantrey of 1818. The Chantrey frame is very like the one on this portrait of John Dalton of 1835 and other portraits of the late 1820s and 1830s where the Regency scroll-and-foliage pattern has been extended to fill the sides. A further variant, found on his portrait of Sir Francis Burden of 1834 and other portraits of the 1830s and early 1840s, has slightly heavier corners. But while each of these types can be distinguished by their corner ornament, these are but variations on a theme established by Lawrence in the 1810s.

Events of 1835back to top

Current affairs

Lord Melbourne, Whig, becomes Prime Minister following Peel's resignation. Melbourne's government took steps to suppress trade union activity, introducing legislation against 'illegal oaths', contributing to the failure of Robert Owen's Grand National Consolidated Trades' Union.

Art and science

Felix Dujardin, the French biologist, reveals protoplasm.
Work on the enlargement and remodelling of Buckingham House to designs by the architect John Nash is completed, creating Buckingham Palace.


Juan Manuel de Rosas becomes dictator of Argentina, invoking a seventeen year rule dominated by terror. A powerful cattle rancher, he represents the rise of the estancieros, the new landed oligarchy based on commercial ranching.

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