image Newton-P0094
Image number: RS.9253
Credit: © The Royal Society
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Portrait of Isaac Newton

Date

1725-1726

Sitter

Isaac Newton (1642-1727, British), Natural philosopher

Creator

John Vanderbank (1694-1739, British), painter

Object type

Material

Dimensions

height (framed canvas): 1270mm
width (framed canvas): 1016mm

Subject

Description

Three-quarter length portrait of Sir Isaac Newton, aged 83 years, seated, with his body half turned from the viewer. Newton is in a high-backed chair wearing an open brown coat, with white neck cloth and shirt cuffs. His hands are at rest, one supported by the chair arm. An architectural pillar is visible to the sitter’s left hand.

Inscribed: “SR. ISAAC NEWTON. P:R:S."

Isaac Newton was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1672, he served as its President from 1703 to 1727.

Object history

The provenance of the picture is discussed in detail by Charles Blacker Vignoles in his letter of presentation to the Society of 25 March 1841. [Royal Society Miscellaneous Correspondence MC/3/150: Charles Blacker Vignoles, 4 Trafalgar Square, 25 March 1841, to the Marquis of Northampton].

“My Lord, I have the honour of transmitting to your Lordship for presentation to the Royal Society, an original portrait of Sir Isaac Newton by Vanderbank...This picture has now been many years in my possession, and the tenure by which I kept it (as a collateral descendent of so illustrious a man) was too flattering not to have been a source of great personal gratification to me...It was painted the year before Newton died, and came into the family of the celebrated Lord Stanhope, who left it in his will to my grandfather, the late Dr Charles Hutton...remotely descended from Sir Isaac Newton...”

This letter was reproduced in Council Minutes for 22 April 1841 [Royal Society Council Minutes, Printed (CMP/1), volume 1, 1832-1836, 11 March 1841 meeting, pp.120-121].

Associated place

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