Sir Humphry Davy, Bt
3 of 20 portraits of Sir Humphry Davy, Bt
- Extended catalogue entry
Regency Portraits Catalogue
Sir Humphry Davy, Bt
by Thomas Phillips
36 in. x 28 in. (914 mm x 711 mm)
Inscriptionback to top
Signed with monogram TP and illegible date 18.. lower left.
This portraitback to top
The portrait was commissioned by Davy's old friend, John Lambton, later Earl of Durham, who had worked with him at Bristol under the care of Dr Beddoes. In November 1817, at a banquet in Newcastle presided over by Lambton, Davy was presented with a silver dinner service as a token of the miners' gratitude for the invention of the safety lamp. Phillips may have received the commission for a portrait shortly after this, an unnumbered entry appearing in the sitter book at the end of the year 18 18; the final entry is dated 10 July 1821, 'for Mr Lambton 483 KC' (kit-cat). The portrait was immediately popular from frequent engravings, Thomson's stipple being issued first and Reynolds's mezzotint, published by Phillips himself, showing the addition of books and glass jars in the background. It was sold by Anderson and Garland at Lambton Castle in April 1932.
Physical descriptionback to top
Half-length seated at a table with Davy lamp, inkbottle and quill, right hand on manuscript, left to chin, in a dark brown coat, light yellow waistcoat, white stock; dark green curtain background; brown eyes, brown hair, dark, healthy complexion.
Provenanceback to top
Painted for the Earl of Durham in 1821; Lambton Castle sale 18 April 1932 (61) bought Leggatt Brothers and bought from them in 1932.
Reproductionsback to top
(1) stipple by J. Thomson published by Henry Colburn 2 April 1821; (2) mezzotint by S. W. Reynolds published by T. Phillips March 1822; (3) stipple on steel by W. T. Fry published by T. Boys July 1825 and used for The Gentleman's Magazine, July 1829; other prints appeared later.
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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