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Portraits Gallery

Choose from 76 images in our Portraits collection.

Robert Fortune Featured Portraits Image

Robert Fortune

Robert Fortune (1812-1880) born in Berwickshire, Scotland, was a botanist and plant-hunter best known for smuggling tea plants out of China at the behest of the East India Company. Following the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842, Fortune was awarded the position of the Society's Collector in China, visiting the region on four occasions, remaining there for two or three years each time. In 1846, he published his journals as Three Years Wanderings in the Northern Provinces of China'. In 1848, he was tasked by the East India Company with collecting tea plants to establish plantations in India, breaking the Chinese monopoly. Disguising himself as a Chinese merchant, he travelled to the remote Fujian, Guangdong, and Jiangsu provinces, regions rarely explored by Westerners, beyond the permissible day's journey from the agreed European treaty ports. The ruling Chinese government had outlawed the purchase of tea plants, but Fortune was able to coordinate the shipment of more than 20, 000 plants and seedlings, in Wardian cases, to the Himalayas, effectively initiating the tea industry in India


Portrait of Sir William Jackson Hooker Featured Portraits Image

Portrait of Sir William Jackson Hooker

Portrait of Sir William Jackson Hooker (1785-1865) by Spiridione Gambardella.Painted circa November 1842. Classmark:BO 001.RBG Kew Art and Artefacts Collection. Oil painting: 275mm x 327mm. Printed text on verso of canvas reads: Prepared by Charles Roberson, 51 Long Acre London. Also inscribed in an unknown hand on verso: From this portrait the likeness in the Linnean Society was made Hooker, William Jackson, Sir (1785-1865). Letters in the Kew archives between Hooker and Francis Boott (an American physician and botanist who lived and worked in London) tell the story behind the creation of this painting [Archive ref: DC 63 f.55];[Archive ref: DC 63 f.42];[Archive ref: DC 63 f.39];[Archive ref: DC 63 f.38]

© RBG Kew

John Hutchinson Featured Portraits Image

John Hutchinson

John Hutchinson, Keeper of Museums at Kew from 1936 to 1948. He curated Economic Botany collections and advised british ministries and colonial governments. Hutchinson is pictured here referring to dried specimens in the Herbarium while working on his revision of George bentham and Joseph Hooker's great work, Genera Plantarum, first published in 1862. Hutchinson's "Genera of Flowering Plants" was published in three volumes in 1964, 1967 and posthumously in 1972. he included 11, 500 genera and approached the task almost single-handedly