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Joseph Priestley, the discoverer of oxygen. Oil painting by Ernest Board, 1912.

Board, Ernest, 1877-1934.
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About this work


Priestley (1733-1804), radical politician, chemist and Nonconformist minister, is portrayed playing backgammon in his house in Birmingham when he received the news that it was about to be attacked by an anti-radical mob. The attacks took place on 14-16 July 1791, and the library, furnishings and equipment represented in the present painting were all destroyed. Priestley himself fled to Hackney

On the back wall is an indistinct portrait of a man wearing a sash. Priestley, seated on the left, holds what looks like a jeweller's eyeglass. Behind him is a machine for experiments with gases (an airpump?). On the right a man enters the room with news of the rioters



Physical description

1 painting : oil on canvas ; canvas 61.5 x 91 cm


Wellcome Library no. 45903i

Creator/production credits

Commissioned by Henry S. Wellcome for the Wellcome Gallery of Portraits, 1912

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