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Sir Humphry Davy, Bt

Sir Humphry Davy, Bt, by Henry Howard, 1803 -NPG 4591 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Regency Portraits Catalogue

Sir Humphry Davy, Bt

by Henry Howard
1803
50 1/2 in. x 40 1/2 in. (1283 mm x 1029 mm)
NPG 4591

Inscriptionback to top

Inscribed lower left: Humphry Davy Esquire/afterwards Sir Humphry Davy Bart./painted by H. Howard 1803.

This portraitback to top

This portrait may be the original exhibited by Howard at the RA in 1803 and engraved the following year by S. W. Reynolds but it does have the flat uninteresting stamp of a later copy; the inscription describing Sir Humphry as a baronet strengthens this conjecture. A copy similar in style, signed and dated H. Howard pinxt 18, was presented to the Athenaeum Club by Sir Humphry Davy Rolleston, his great-nephew, in the Club's centenary year 1924; as President of the Royal Society, Davy was Croker's first correspondent at the formation of the Club, becoming a founder member and influential on the Committee choosing the original members. The whereabouts of the original, if it is not NPG 4591, are unrecorded in the Gallery archive.

Physical descriptionback to top

Nearly three-quarter-length seated in a red upholstered chair, elbow on book, hand to chin, at a mahogany table with brass drawer handles; plain background with lamp on a shelf top left; dark coat, dark eyes, reddish-brown hair, dark, healthy complexion.

Provenanceback to top

John King of Bristol; Mrs Victoria Hankey and sold by her at Christie's 17 November 1967 (67) bought Leggatt on behalf of the NPG.

Exhibitionsback to top

(this or an earlier version)
RA 1803 (5) as 'H. Davy Esq. professor of chemistry to the Royal Institution'.

Reproductionsback to top

(1) mezzotint by S. W. Reynolds May 1804 (examples in British Museum and Royal Institution); (2) stipple by J. Thomson published H. Fisher 1822 and used to illustrate John Davy, Memoirs of the Life of Sir Humphry Davy, 1836. II, p 400; (3) mezzotint by C. Turner published 21 November 1835 and used as frontispiece to Memoirs of the Life of Sir Humphry Davy; (4) anonymous line engraving published by Hodgson & Co 1824, a variant with his left hand on a table and chemical apparatus in right background.


This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: Richard Walker, Regency Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, 1985, 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.

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