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Sir Humphry Davy, Bt

Sir Humphry Davy, Bt, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, based on a work of circa 1821 -NPG 1573 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Regency Portraits Catalogue

Sir Humphry Davy, Bt

after Sir Thomas Lawrence
based on a work of circa 1821
56 in. x 44 in. (1422 mm x 1118 mm)
NPG 1573

This portraitback to top

Lawrence's original portrait was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1821 (171) and presented by Lady Davy to the Royal Society in 1829 when she wrote: 'Being so fortunate as to possess an invaluable little picture of Sir Humphry Davy, I feel enabled to resign the only portrait painted of him by his celebrated friend the President of the Royal Academy and to present it to the Royal Society' (C. R. Weld, History of the Royal Society, 1848, II, p 343).
The NPG copy, according to the vendor, Mrs Isaacs, 'was bought many years ago by my late father' (letter 4 April 1910 in NPG archive); it has every appearance of being Lawrence studio work of fresh and vigorous quality and probably by Richard Evans. Another copy was painted by Pickersgill for the Royal Institution in 1831; a copy formerly in the Cornwall Polytechnic Institute was in the Exeter Exhibition 1873; two small copies were made by Linnell in 1837 for Lord Ashburnham and Lord Lansdowne (British Museum Sketchbook 1837), the Lansdowne copy being sold at Christie's 7 March 1930 (23) bought Gooden & Fox, now Government Art Collection 15181.
Lawrence's oil was used as a model for the statue by W. and T. Wills in the Market Place, Penzance (The Times, 18 October 1872, Illustrated London News, 19 October 1872, pp 371, 373).

Physical descriptionback to top

Three-quarter-length standing in a black overcoat with a grey lining, black tail-coat with brass buttons, grey trousers, cream waistcoat, white collar and shirt-frill, yellow leather gloves, two gold seals on blue ribbons at waist, modified safety lamp on table with crimson cloth left, crimson curtain right; sky and architectural background; black hair, grey eyes, fresh complexion.

Provenanceback to top

Bought from Mrs Helen Isaacs 1910.

Exhibitionsback to top

'The Heritage from Newton and Linnaeus', Stockholm, 1962.


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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