Credit: ©The Royal Society
    Image number: RS.9671
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    Portrait of John Frederick William Herschel

    John Frederick William Herschel (1792 - 1871, British) , Mathematician
    Christian Albrecht Jensen (1792 - 1870, Danish) , Painter
    Object type
    Archive reference number
    height (painting): 680mm
    width (painting): 528mm
    Half-length portrait of Sir John Herschel, body angled to the viewer’s right, face in half shadow. Herschel has thick greying hair and side whiskers. He wears a black coat with brass buttons, black waistcoat, white shirt with a high collar and a black tie.

    John Herschel was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1871.
    Sir J.Herschell
    Room 106
    Object history
    Presented by Sir John Evans FRS, 1877.

    Sir John Herschel’s diary for 1843 records sittings at his home at Hawkhurst, Kent, during August of that year: “14 August Hawkhurst Mr Jensen came again...18 August Sate for the last time to Mr Jensen for my picture...21 August Mr Jensen left...” [Royal Society manuscript MS/583 Herschel diary, 1843].

    The donation to the Royal Society is recorded in letters by Sir John Evans offering the portrait and providing some additional details. “I have received the enclosed photograph of a portrait of Herschel by a Danish artist Jensen, from a dealer in Copenhagen. It is said to have been taken by the artist during his stay in London and to have been destined for the St Petersburg Observatory. I am not sure whether the R.S. possesses a portrait of Herschel, but if not and the picture is thought worthy of a place in our gallery I shall be happy to present it to the Society...” [Letter, John Evans, 6 August 1877, to Walter White, the Royal Society. Miscellaneous Correspondence, MC/11/92].

    Evans sent the packed portrait to the Society, expressing his intentions in an additional letter of 22 August 1877. [Letter, John Evans, 22 August 1877, to Walter White, the Royal Society. Miscellaneous Correspondence, MC/11/97]. He sent a supplementary note explaining that he had no additional information on the picture but would make enquiries in Copenhagen. [Letter, John Evans, 29 October 1877, to Walter White, the Royal Society. Miscellaneous Correspondence, MC/11/109].
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