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William Harvey

1 of 19 portraits of William Harvey

William Harvey, by Daniel Mytens, circa 1627 -NPG 5115 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Early Stuart Portraits Catalogue

William Harvey

attributed to Daniel Mytens
circa 1627
28 1/2 in. x 24 in. (724 mm x 610 mm) oval
NPG 5115

Inscriptionback to top

Inscribed centre right: Doctor William/Harvey:.

This portraitback to top

The earliest known portrait of Harvey, showing him at about the time he published the De Motu Cordis in 1626. Originally one of a set of eight portraits, showing Thomas Harvey (1549-1623) and his seven sons, at Rolls Park, Essex, set in rococo plaster frames, [1] a provenance confirming the identity. After many years of neglect, recognised by Keynes in 1948.
The date of c.1627 is supported by costume, the apparent age of the sitter and by the fact that the oval portrait of Harvey’s brother Daniel, formerly at Rolls Park and clearly by the same hand as NPG 5115, is dated 1627. The attribution to Mytens, suggested by Malcolm Rogers, seems entirely plausible; [2] Mytens was made Court Portrait Painter in 1622, when Harvey was physician-extraordinary to the King.
A modern copy by Caroline Romer is in the Harvey Grammar School, Folkestone.

Footnotesback to top

1) The portraits were listed by Vertue, Notebooks, Wal. Soc., XVIII, 1930, p 88, as by Cornelius Johnson. Illus. in situ, The Destruction of the Country House, 1974, fig.269; Rolls Park was destroyed in 1953.
2) Cf. the Mytens Self-portrait of c.1630? and First Duke of Buckingham of c.1622-23, both in the Royal Collection (O. Millar, The Tudor, Stuart and Early Georgian Pictures in the Collection of Her Majesty The Queen, 1963, nos.114, 123, pls.53,51), and NPG 5492, Endymion Porter, dated 1627.

Referenceback to top

Gibson 1977
W. C. Gibson, Bull. of the History of Medicine, LI, 1977, pp 293-96.

Keynes, 1949 (1st ed.), 1985 (2nd ed.)
G. Keynes, The Portraiture of William Harvey, no.i (wrong size given in 1949, extra pp in 1985 – xvii, 24-26, 29, 46-51).

Conservationback to top

Lined; surface cleaned 1949 and 1994; some abrasion around head.

Provenanceback to top

By descent at Rolls Park, Essex, from Eliab Harvey, the sitter’s brother, to Andrew Lloyd (a lineal descendant); illegally exported to America 1959 (as an ‘unknown gentleman’); bt. Dr Myron Prinzmetal, Beverley Hill CA; purchased from the Prinzmetal Estate 1976, with the help of Dr William Gibson of the Department of the History of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Jacob Zeitlin and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.

Exhibitionsback to top

Royal College of Physicians 1949-59; Harvey Quartercentenary, Royal College of Physicians, 1978; Apples to Atoms 1986-87; Edward Alleyn, Dulwich Picture Gallery, 1994-95, no.56.


This extended catalogue entry is by John Ingamells, one of a limited number of entries drafted in 2010 for the incomplete catalogue, Early Stuart Portraits 1625-1685, and is as written 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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