Harvard's John Singleton Copley portrait of John Winthrop is now on temporary view in The Putnam Gallery as an exchange loan with the Harvard Art Museums. The portrait will hang in place of The Pope Orrery (right), soon to be playing a starring role in the exhibition The Philosophy Chamber: Art and Science in Harvard’s Teaching Cabinet, 1766–1820, set to open this coming May.
Winthrop was the Hollis Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at Harvard from 1738 to 1779. Copley depicted him holding in his hand a diagram showing the transit of Venus which he observed in 1761. The brass portable Gregorian reflecting telescope on the table to his left was made by the London instrument maker James Short circa 1740. The telescope was Winthrop's personal property and was given to the College after his death in 1779, and is now Item 0053 in our collection (below right).