image airy p0169
Image number: RS.9699
Credit: ©The Royal Society/University of Cambridge, Institute of Astronomy

Portrait of George Biddell Airy


ca. 1833-1834


Sir George Biddell Airy (1801-1892, British), Astronomer


James Pardon (1784-1862, British), Miniaturist

Object type

Archive reference number



height (painting): 1420mm
width (painting): 1110mm


Content object


Half-length portrait of Sir George Biddell Airy, standing before a landscape with the Cambridge University Observatory buildings. Also behind is a patterned red hanging and an architectural pillar. Airy is dressed in a black jacket and waistcoat with grey trousers and a white high-collared shirt and tie. On a desk or table to the right as viewed are two large half-upright leather-bound volumes and an inkwell holding a quill pen. Airy rests his left hand on an open book. A sheaf of papers beneath this is visible with two coloured figures.

George Airy was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1836, he served as its President from 1871 to 1873.


T.Brown Dist. Holborn
SIR GEORGE AIRY (1801-1892) President 1871-73 by James Pardon On permanent loan from the University of Cambridge

Object history

On permanent loan from the University of Cambridge.

The painting formerly hung at the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, and was loaned to the National Maritime Museum “for some years” and eventually stored there. It was transferred to the Royal Society and following conservation work the picture was formally agreed by Council of Senate of the University to be passed to the Royal Society on “permanent loan”. [Correspondence, R.F.Holmes, D.W.Dewhurst (University of Cambridge) and N.H.Robinson (The Royal Society), 2 March 1978-4 February 1980, Royal Society provenance file].

Associated place

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