image Halley P0060 no frame
Image number: RS.9285
Credit: © The Royal Society
Looking for a special gift? Buy a print of this image.

Portrait of Edmond Halley


ca. 1736


Edmond Halley (1656-1742, British), Astronomer


Michael Dahl (1659-1743, Swedish), Painter

Object type



height (painting): 1267mm
width (painting): 1020mm



Edmond Halley as an old man, wearing a loose black robe over a brown coat. Beneath that, a white shirt with a fine squared collar at the neck. He wears a grey wig, shoulder-length and high up from the forehead. Behind him, in a curtained recess, are two bound books on a shelf. Another volume rests on a surface in front of Halley, over which lies, held in his right hand, a sheet of paper with a diagram of concentric circles.

The figure is from “An account of the cause of the change of the variation of the magnetical needle with an hypothesis of the structure of the internal parts of the Earth…”, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, vol.16 1686-1692 pp.563-578, in which Halley attempts an explanation for the movements of the Earth’s magnetic poles through its internal structure.

Edmond Halley was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1678.

Object history

Both of the Society’s pictures of Edmond Halley were in the Society’s collection by 1768, as noted by a contemporary visitor: [ “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

<The World>
   > Europe
      > United Kingdom