Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of Sir Humphry Davy (1778 - 1829) 1815c.

Sir Thomas Lawrence PRA, Studio of 

Portrait of Sir Humphry Davy  (1778 - 1829), Sir Thomas Lawrence PRA, Studio of
Oil on canvas
19th Century
26 x 23 inches 66 x 58.4 cm
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This portrait derives from Lawrence''s celebrated image of Davy as President of the Royal Society, donated by his widow in 1829. Another full-length studio version, attributed to Richard Evans, and most likely by the same hand as ours, is in the National Portrait Gallery in London. It possesses the same vigorous brush work and superior drawing.
The original portrait was exhibited in 1821, one year into Davy''s term as President of the Royal Society. In this role, and as inventor of the Safety Lamp (1815), he became a celebrated figure in the scientific world and there would have been a demand for his duplicated image. We are unable, yet, to establish the circumstances of this particular commission.
The face mask of this outstanding image was used as a model for the statue by W & T Wills in the Market Place, Penzance. As the portrait painter of his generation, Lawrence attracted many of the leading painters of the period into his studio - artists such as Harlow, Carpenter, Etty and Evans - who performed the task of producing versions of those portraits in the greatest demand.
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