Credit: ©The Royal Society
    Image number: RS.9722
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    Portrait of Joseph Priestley

    ca. 1763
    Joseph Priestley (1733 - 1804, British) , Natural philosopher
    Object type
    Archive reference number
    height (painting): 746mm
    width (painting): 625mm
    Content object
    Half-length portrait of a relatively young Joseph Priestley, body turned to the viewer’s right. His right arm resets against a lectern or shelf, this hand holding a small book blue in blue leather with a gold fore-edge and tooling. Priestley is dressed soberly in a black coat and waistcoat, the visible sleeve tumbling over its resting place. He has a white shirt and cravat and wears a short grey wig.

    Joseph Priestley was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1766.
    JOSEPH PRIESTLEY, F.R.S., (1733-1804). Painter Unknown. Presented by C.W.KNOTT, July, 1960
    Object history
    Presented by C.W.Knott, 1960.

    Known as the “Leeds Portrait” of Priestley, the donation is recorded briefly in Council Minutes: “Reported the offer to the Society by Mr. C.W. Knott, a descendent of Dr. Joseph Priestley (F.R.S., 1766), of a portrait of Dr Priestley by an unknown artist. Resolved – That the offer be accepted and the thanks of the Society returned for this gift.” [Royal Society Council Minutes, Printed, CMP/20 1957-1961, meeting of 7 July 1960, p.437].

    The Knott family picture had been brought to the attention of the Society in the Thirties, when it was in the possession of Miss Emma Francis Knott. Douglas Mckie and W. Cameron Walker of University College, London, wrote: “We shall endeavour to keep in touch with the family, and though the possibility seems at present very remote, if, through any work we have done, the portrait should at some future time find its way into the Royal Society’s Collection, we shall be more than repaid.” [Correspondence, Douglas Mckie and W. Cameron Walker with the Royal Society, 27 October-7 November 1933, Royal Society Modern Domestic Archives, MDA/G3/1].
    Associated place
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