image ms_654_019
Image number: RS.17959
Credit: ©The Royal Society

Portrait of James Boswell




G. W. Hutin (fl. 1820s, British), Engraver


Joshua Reynolds Gwatkin (b.1792, British), Painter

Object type

Archive reference number




height (print): 178mm
width (print): 135mm



Half-length portrait of James Boswell, body facing left [as viewed], looking directly into the camera. He wears a dark overcoat and waistcoat, a white necktie and a wig. Rolling hills and trees are visible behind him.

Inscribed below: 'Sir Josh.a Reynolds pinx.r G. W. Hutin Sculp.r
James Boswell Esq.r'

From The Priestley Papers a volume containing portraits, drawings, letters and other memorials of Joseph Priestley, curated and edited by James Yates.

James Boswell (1740–1795) lawyer, diarist, and biographer of Samuel Johnson, was not a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) British theologian and natural philosopher, was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1766.

James Yates (1789-1871) British Unitarian minister and scholar was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1839. Though he never met Priestley personally, Yates knew many of his relatives, friends and pupils, and spent much of his career documenting his discoveries and writings.

Object history

During the planning of the new University Museum of Oxford in 1856, it was decided to commission several statues of famous scientists. One of these was to be of Priestley, and James Yates was invited to oversee its conception. In his own words, 'it became necessary to obtain the best portraits, busts and bas-reliefs to assist the sculptor in making a good likeness.' He also acquired reports of personal experiences and anecdotes from people who knew Priestley, and in 1864 assembled all of this material into this volume.

This volume was presented to the Royal Society in 1957 by the Priestley family.

Associated place

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