The Mystery of the Picture of Thomas Harriot

Is this Thomas Harriot?

This portrait hangs in the President's room in Trinity College, Oxford. There are some who assert that it is of Thomas Harriot and it has been used to depict him in a number of biographies and other publications. It was painted in 1602, some seven years before Harriot made his lunar observations, a time when he is believed to have been 42 years old. The painting was part of the estate of James Ingram (1774-1850) who was College President from 1824 until his death. There are no records relating to the portrait's origin or subject.

On balance, it is unlikely that the portrait is of Thomas Harriot. The case is discussed in much more detail in "A Tale of Two Portraits": A Note on Two Alleged Images of Thomas Harriot (by John. M. Dudley.)

This picture of the Trinity College (Oxford) Portrait © Max Alexander. Reproduction requires permission. Contact via or


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