John Ray

John Ray, by Unknown artist, circa 1685-1690 -NPG 563 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Later Stuart Portraits Catalogue

John Ray

by Unknown artist
circa 1685-1690
30 in. x 25 in. (762 mm x 635 mm)
NPG 563

This portraitback to top

The identity is authenticated by provenance and the Faithorne pastel and the date of c.1685-90 is indicated by comparison with Elder’s engraving of 1690.
In 1748 Kalm described this as ‘a portrait of Mr John Ray which must be the only one of him to be found in England. It very much resembles that which is found on the title page of his Wisdom of God in the Creation’ [3rd ed.,1691: the engraving by Elder].
Previously and wrongly attributed to Mary Beale or J. M. Wright; Keynes suggested it was by Faithorne, but the absence of other oils by him prevents certainty.

Referenceback to top

Dawson 1999
A. Dawson, Portrait Sculpture, A catalogue of the British Museum collection c.1675-1975, 1999, pp 170, 172.

Ellis 1843
Sir Henry Ellis, List of Portraits suspended on the Walls of the Eastern Zoological Gallery, British Museum, 1843, no.70.

Kalm 1748
Per Kalm, MS ‘Description of Sloane’s Museum at Chelsea 1748’, see A. MacGregor, Hans Sloane, 1994, p 33.

Keynes 1951
G. Keynes, ‘A note on the Portraits of Ray’ in John Ray, a Bibliography, 1951, pp 151-52.

Piper 1963
D. Piper, Catalogue of the Seventeenth Century Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery 1625-1714, 1963, p 295.

Provenanceback to top

Sir Hans Sloane (a close friend of the sitter) by whom bequeathed to the British Museum 1753; transferred to the NPG 1879.

Exhibitionsback to top

Tercentenary Exhibition, Royal Society, Burlington House, 1960; Sir Thomas Browne, Norwich, 1982, no.12; Apples to Atoms, Portraits of Scientists from Newton to Rutherford, NPG travelling exhibition, Science Museum, Norwich, Grasmere, Coalbrookdale, 1986-87, n.n.; Duchy of Lancaster, Whitehall 1993–94.

Reproductionsback to top

W. Holl I 1799 (oval); J. Roffe 1820; H. Meyer 1833.


This extended catalogue entry is from the National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Ingamells, National Portrait Gallery: Later Stuart Portraits 1685–1714, National Portrait Gallery, 2009, 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.

View all known portraits for John Ray