Credit: © The Royal Society
    Image number: RS.9345
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    Portrait of John Flamsteed

    ca. 1680
    John Flamsteed (1646 - 1719, British) , Astronomer
    Thomas Murray (1663 - 1735, British) , Painter
    Object type
    Archive reference number
    height (painting): 905mm
    width (painting): 782mm
    Flamsteed as a young man, oval, half-length, body angled to the viewer’s left. He has shoulder-length natural hair, and wears a black gown and white squared collar.

    John Flamsteed was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1677.
    John Flamsteed A.R. F.R.S
    Object history
    Presented by James Hodgson, 1732; bequeathed by Mrs Margaret Flamsteed (along with the Society’s portrait of Tycho Brahe; both were owned by John Flamsteed).

    The donation of this painting is noted in the Society’s Journal Book: “Mr Hodgson presented the Society with the Picture of Tycho Brahe, and of the Revd. Mr Flamsteed late Regius Professor of Astronomy at Greenwich: and the Pictures were given to Mr Hauksbee, to get them hung up in the most convenient place.” [Royal Society Journal Book Original, JBO/15 p.185 meeting of 23 November 1732].

    The circumstances behind this presentation are explained by Mrs Flamsteed’s will: “Item. I give to the Royall Society in Crane-court, Fleet Street, London, an Original Picture of the late Mr John Flamsteed, at half-length, drawn by Mr Murry, and also give a Picture of Tycho Brahe, a three-quarters length, with each of their respective frames, to be placed where the Pictures of Mr. Boyle and other persons of that learned Society are fixed.” [Quoted in a letter, Colin A Ronan, 9 December 1978, to Norman Robinson. In the Royal Society provenance file for the portrait of Tycho Brahe]. James Hodgson (1678?-1755) married Ann Heming, the Flamsteeds’ niece and subsequently donated objects belonging to Flamsteed to the Royal Society.

    The Society’s 1931 Catalogue of portraits notes this picture as “School of Lely” and at that time on loan to the National Portrait Gallery. [The Royal Society Catalogue of Portraits June, 1931, p.4]. The 1901 Record and 1892 catalogue give an attribution of “T.Gibson (?)”. [List of portraits and the possession of the Royal Society (London, Harrison and Sons, 1892) p.4]. C.R.Weld’s catalogue is more definite “Painted by Thomas Gibson: “ [Descriptive catalogue of the portraits in the possession of the Royal Society by Charles Richard Weld (London, Taylor and Francis, 1860) p.26].
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