May 26, 1786

May 26, 1786 James Smithson (1765-1829) graduates with the degree of Master of Arts from Pembroke College, Oxford University, where he excelled at chemistry and mineralogy. He has not yet changed his name from James Lewis Macie, which he continues to use until about 1800.

The image is a photograph of an oil on canvas portrait of James Smithson in cap and gown, while a student at Pembroke College, Oxford, painted by James Roberts (1753 -c.1809) in 1786. The painting was purchased in 1850 from the widow of John Fitall, Smithson’s former servant to whom he had granted an annuity. The original painting is located in the National Portrait Gallery.

Courtesy of Smithsonian Institution Archives

Posted: 30 May 2012
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