The Government Art Collection recognises its responsibility to artists, colleagues and all our audiences to represent the diversity of the UK and to embed anti-racist and equitable practices throughout our work. We are taking action to address inequality in the Collection and its interpretation.
This painting may have been intended to decorate a public building such as a library. The numbers, seen to the lower left and lower right of the painting, suggest it was part of a series of similar portraits, which were hung in sequence around a room.
To the left of the painting, the allegorical figure holding a stone tablet represents Philosophy and the figure to the right, with a pair of dividers, represents Geometry. The significance of the eagle to the left of the painting is not known. The depiction of Newton himself as a bust is based on a portrait bust by the sculptor Louis Francois Roubiliac (1702-1761) of 1751. However, Newton’s features, in particular his eyes, have been painted to appear life-like.
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