image jurin p0078
Image number: RS.9681
Credit: ©The Royal Society
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Portrait of James Jurin


ca. 1740s


James Jurin (1679-1750, British), Physicist


James Worsdale (1687-1767, British), Painter

Object type

Archive reference number



height (painting): 1270mm
width (painting): 1004mm


Content object


Three-quarter length portrait of James Jurin, seated on a red chair with ornate gilded surround. Jurin rests his right arm on a table covered with a green cloth upon which is a pile of three books, the central volume inscribed “J.Jurin M.D.” Jurin holds an open edition of Sir Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica in his left hand. He is dressed in a grey shoulder-length wig, brown waistcoat and white neck-cloth over which is a green robe with red at the collars and cuffs. Behind the sitter are screens decorated in green and gold with sunlight slanting into the painting.

Jurin was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1717.


James Jurin

Object history

Presented by Rev. William Totton, 1868.

The donation is recorded in Council Minutes: “A letter was read from the Rev. Charles William Knyvett presenting, on behalf of his nephew, a Portrait of Dr. James Jurin, who was Secretary of the Royal Society from 1721 to 1727, and from whom the Donor is descended. Resolved That the thanks of the President and Council be returned for this valuable addition to the Society’s collection of Portraits.“ [Royal Society Council Minutes, Original, CMO/14, meeting of 29 October 1868].

Knyvett’s correspondence on this and on an associated series of Jurin letters is preserved in the Society’s archives. Knyvett approached the Royal Society in May 1868: “My brother in law...left behind him, amongst other portraits of ancestors, one of his great grandfather...Dr Jurin who was Secretary when Sir Isaac Newton was President...” [Letter, C.W.Knyvett, 12 May 1868, to Walter White, Royal Society. Miscellaneous Correspondence MC/8/192]. By August of that year “The portrait of Jurin has been cleaned &c and is ready for collection at Seymour Haden’s Esq., 62 Sloane St.” [Letter, C.W.Knyvett, 13 August 1868, to the Secretary, Royal Society. Miscellaneous Correspondence MC/8/240]. Knynett noted that “The portrait of Jurin is presented by his Great Great Grandson, the Revd. W.Totton at present Curate of Blechingley Surrey...[I] shall inquire...also whether the name of the painter of the portrait is known...” [Letter, C.W.Knyvett, 31 October 1868, to Walter White, Royal Society. Miscellaneous Correspondence MC/8/263]. This question was not resolved, apparently, since the final letter, on an inscription for the portrait, does not refer to an artist. [Letter, C.W.Knyvett, 8 November 1869 [1868?], to Walter White, Royal Society. Miscellaneous Correspondence MC/8/443].

Associated place

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