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Sir William Herschel

Fine art

Object connections:

Collection Fine art, Oil paintings
Gallery locationNot on display
PeopleDepiction: Herschel, William

Object details:

Object ID ZBA1795
Description Print. Various versions of this image exist including oil on canvas copies of the original ordered by Caroline Herschel (this now belongs to the Royal Astronomical Society) and Bertie Greatheed (now at the National Maritime Museum, object number BHC2359) who recommended the artist to JFW Herschel who then commissioned the original. No details are given as to who produced this print. The original Artaud portrait was commissioned by William Herschel's son, John Frederick William Herschel in 1819. It shows William aged 81 in a plain jacket wearing the ribbon of the Royal Guelphic order. According to Greatheed, who recommended the artist to John Herschel having recently been painted by Artaud himself, Artaud would undertake the commission 'with great pleasure, and go down to Slough for the purpose. His terms are 15 guineas for a head... 30 for a half length, & 60 for a full length.' (Memoir & Correspondence of Caroline Herschel, 1876, p355). The Royal Guelphic Order was an order of Chivalry introduced by the Prince Regent (later George IV). Guelphic refers to the House of Guelph to which all the Hanoverian kings belonged, and would have had special significance for William Herschel since he, like the kings, was originally from Hanover. The original portrait was a definite success, inspiring both Caroline Herschel and Bertie Greatheed to commission exact copies for themselves as well as 25 lithographs, which Caroline ordered from J. Giére to distribute among her friends and acquaintances in 1835; a photograph of the Giére lithograph which Alexander Stewart Herschel used to illustrate a New Year card in 1900; a number of autotype copies ordered by Constance Lubbock (nee Herschel) and her husband and an engraving by F. Leist presented by the RAS to the ROG in 1939.
Date made 1913

Artist/Maker Leist, Frederic
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Materials oil on canvas
Measurements Overall: 749.3 x 622.3 mm
  • Sir William Herschel (ZBA1795)
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