Logo: Silhouette of William Hunter

Hunterian Museum & Art Gallery William Hunter Collections:
GLAHA 43742

This information is © The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, University of Glasgow 2017

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GLAHM 43742: 'Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727)' 1702 - click to view larger image

"Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727)" 1702

oil painting

CRE KNELLER, Godfrey, Sir; (English/German; 1646-1723)

oil on canvas
75.5 x 63.0
96.3 x 84.2 English 18th century pine carved frame with pierced corners and mid-sections.
Signed 'GKneller' by sitter's right shoulder
From the founder, William Hunter's collection. The face of Isaac Newton (1646-1727) - the greatest scientist of the age - was an icon of the Enlightenment. No learned society or institution would have been without a bust or portrait of the great man; this painting would have placed Hunter's anatomy school firmly within the Newtonian tradition of science. In fact Hunter was himself a student of Newton's laboratory assistant, Desaguliers. This painting came from the 1754 sale of Newton's doctor, Dr Richard Mead. There is another version of this portrait in the National Portrait Gallery, London (NPG 2881). This portrait may well have been a gift from the sitter to his physician. This personal link would have given the portrait added appeal to Hunter who paid a high price for it some time after the Mead sale in 1754. The German-born Kneller was the dominant portrait painter of the first part of the eighteenth century. The dryness and predictability of his wigged portraits needs to be weighed against his contribution to establishing London's first art academy, and the fact that he was part of the Twickenham set, the intellectuals and wits including Swift, Pope and Arbuthnot. Also in the Mead sale was Kneller's self-portrait, of the same format as the Newton, which was acquired by Reynolds (National Portrait Gallery, London). Bequeathed by Dr William Hunter, 1783

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For more information please contact Malcolm.Chapman@glasgow.ac.uk