James Smithson Portrait - National Portrait Gallery

Henri-Joseph Johns1816

Smithsonian Institution Building, The Castle

Smithsonian Institution Building, The Castle
Washington, DC, United States

ARTIST: Henri-Joseph Johns, 1761 - 1843
SITTER: James Smithson, c. 1765 - 1829
MEDIUM: Gouache on ivory
DIMENSIONS: Other (Accurate): 7.6 x 7cm (3 x 2 3/4")
Frame (with hanging hook): 13.8 x 11.7cm (5 7/16 x 4 5/8")
TYPE: Painting
DATE: 1816
EXHIBITION LABEL: Probably born in France, Englishman James Smithson commissioned this forthright portrait from a Belgian artist working in present-day Aachen, possibly as a gift for a family member. Always painfully aware of his uncertain status as an illegitimate child of the Duke of Northumberland, he focused on his scientific publishing in chemistry and mineralogy. In 1826 he penned his most unusual will, providing for the establishment of the “Smithsonian Institution, an Establishment for the increase & diffusion of knowledge among men.”
TOPIC: Miniature
James Smithson: James Smithson: Science and Technology\Scientist\Chemist\Education\Founder
CREDIT LINE:Portrait National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; transfer from the National Museum of American History Conserved with funds from the Smithsonian Women's Committee
SEE MORE ITEMS IN: National Portrait Gallery Collection
DATA SOURCE: National Portrait Gallery


  • Title: James Smithson Portrait - National Portrait Gallery
  • Creator: Henri-Joseph Johns
  • Date Created: 1816
  • Subject Keywords: James Smithson, Founding of the Smithsonian Institution

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