Credit: © The Royal Society
    Image number: RS.2
    Looking for a special gift? Buy a print of this image.

    Portrait of Charles Darwin

    Charles Robert Darwin (1809 - 1882, British) , Naturalist
    Mabel Beatrice Messer (British) , Painter
    John Collier (1850 - 1934, British) , Painter
    Object type
    Archive reference number
    height (framed canvas): 1270mm
    width (framed canvas): 995mm
    Content object
       > accessory
          > hat
    Portrait of an elderly Charles Darwin, shown with a full white beard. Collier’s original painting was completed by July-August 1881 and shows the naturalist in the last year of his life.

    Darwin’s appearance and costume in this copy portrait conform to the description left by his son Francis: “His beard was full and almost untrimmed, the hair being grey and white, fine rather than coarse, and wavy or frizzled. His moustache was somewhat disfigured by being cut short and square across. He became very bald, having only a fringe of dark hair behind…He wore dark clothes, of a loose and easy fit. Of late years he gave up the tall hat even in London, and wore a soft black one in winter, and a big straw hat in summer. His usual out-of-doors dress was the short cloak” [Francis Darwin (ed), The life and letters of Charles Darwin including an autobiographical chapter…in three volumes (London, John Murray, 1888), vol.1 pp.111-112]

    Charles Robert Darwin (1809 - 1882), British naturalist, geologist, and originator of the theory of natural selection, was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1839 and served as its Vice President between 1854 and 1856. He was awarded the Society's Royal Medal in 1853 for 'his work entitled Geological Observations on Coral Reefs, Volcanic Islands, and on South America, and his work, Fossil Circhipeda of Great Britain, Section Lepadidae, Monograph of the Circhipeda', and the Copley Medal in 1864 for 'his important researches in geology, zoology, and botanical physiology'. He is the namesake of the Society's Darwin Medal, which is awarded for work of distinction in evolution, biological diversity and developmental, population and organismal biology.
    Three-quarter length portrait. Darwin is shown standing, facing the viewer, dressed in a broad-buttoned black cloak draped over the shoulders. He holds a dark broad brimmed hat left-handed, thumb to the fore.
    Mabel B Messer 1912 after John Collier 1883
    Reeves & Sons, canvas, London
    Object history
    Royal Society Council Minutes indicate that the portrait was made from Collier’s second version of the picture: “It was agreed that a copy of the Hon. John Collier’s portrait of Mr.Charles Darwin from the National Portrait Gallery, made by Miss M.B. Messer, be purchased at a cost of 15 guineas” [Royal Society Minutes of Council, Printed, vol. 11, 1914-20, 24 February 1916, minute 3, p.129].
    Associated place
    <The World>
       > Europe
          > United Kingdom
    Powered by CollectionsIndex+/CollectionsOnline