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    Portrait of William Harvey

    ca. 1660s-1670s
    William Harvey (1578 - 1657, British) , Physician
    Unknown, Artist
    Peter Lely (1618 - 1680, Dutch) , Painter
    Object type
    Archive reference number
    height (painting): 762mm
    width (painting): 637mm
    Harvey is shown half-length and turned to the viewer’s left, wearing a black gown and skullcap: a white shirt collar is visible. The sitter has a short pointed grey beard.

    After an original by Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680) painted ca.1650.

    Sic ora ferebat. Magnus Naturae Rimator Et Circulationis Sanguinis Demonstrator Primus Gulielmus Harvius
    WILLIAM HARVEY, (1578-1657) by DE REYN.
    William Harvey
    Object history
    Presented by John Mapletoft, 1684.

    For many years attributed to Jan De Reyn, the picture has been discussed in detail by Milo Keynes, who contradicts this attribution. [Milo Keynes, “The portrait of Dr William Harvey in the Royal Society since 1683”, Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London, vol.60, no.3, 22 September 2006, pp.249-252]. The work was noted as being with the Society by George Vertue (1684-1756) who viewed it in August 1737 [Noted by Keynes, above, George Vertue, The notebooks of George Vertue (Walpole Society, Oxford, 1930-1935) Notebook 2, 20, p.79]. Keynes notes the donor as being John Mappletoft and there is confirmation of the Society’s Journal Book record of a meeting of 27 February 1683/4: “Dr Mapletoft presented the Picture of Dr. Wm. Harvey; for which Mr. Hill was desired to return him the thanks of the Company” [Royal Society Journal Book Original, JBO/7 p.213].

    Confusingly there is a second potential donation of this picture recorded on 27 January 1695/6: “Mr. Povey presented the Society with the picture of the fam’d Dr. Harvey and Mr.Buchanan, both of wch. were order’d to be hung up in the Society’s meeting room” [Royal Society Journal Book Original, JBO/9 p.211]. This later date of donation is continued in the Society’s repository (museum) catalogues [for example, MS/416/297].

    The Gentleman’s Magazine listing of Royal Society pictures from 1768 confirms that there were two portraits of William Harvey in the Society’s possession at that time, one of which has been lost. [“A list of original pictures at the Royal Society House. Communicated by a Connoisseur’, Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 38 (1768), pp. 62-3.]

    Associated place
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    © The Royal Society
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