George Francis Joseph, Edward Hussey Delaval

Photo courtesy of Dave Penman (All rights reserved)


Country House
Doddington Hall
Edward Hussey Delaval
Stairs Leading To Second Floor And Landing
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Overall height: 125 cm, Overall width: 100 cm
George Francis Joseph (1764-1846)
Catalogue Number
  • Inscribed: ‘AD: 1813 – A:AETAT.83.’


As the inscription on the portrait indicates, Edward Hussey Delaval (1729–1814) was then eighty-three years old. Through documents and the background depicting St Paul’s Cathedral being struck by lightning the portrait refers directly to Delaval’s research on lightning conductors. In 1764 Delaval had given an account of the effects of lightning on St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street, and was later appointed to a committee by the Royal Society, along with Benjamin Franklin, to research the means to alleviate the danger from St Paul’s being struck by lightning. The results were published in 1769 under the title Commissioners Proposal of a Method for Securing the Cathedral of St. Paul’s from Damage by Lightning. When St Paul’s was struck on 22 March 1772 Delaval produced an account of the effects. In 1777, in relation to his experiments with glass and metals, he published his research into the cause of permanent colours of opaque bodies. French, German and Italian editions followed. The present portrait includes in the left lower foreground the title page of the Italian edition, Richerche Sperimental..., published in Bologna in 1779. As close inspection reveals, the page, which has fragmented, is pasted to the surface of the canvas.1

George Francis Joseph (1764–1846), the painter of the present portrait, was admitted to Royal Academy Schools in 1784. In 1792 he was awarded a gold medal by the Academy for a Scene from Coriolanus. In 1811 he was awarded a premium by the British Institution for the Return of Priam with the Dead Body of Hector, and in 1812 for Procession to Calvary. Joseph became an Associate Royal Academician in 1813 and practised in London until retiring to Cambridge in 1836. Other portraits include the engraver William Sharp (Wellcome Library, London); Spencer Perceval (Trinity College, University of Cambridge), Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles (National Portrait Gallery, London) and Mrs Siddons as the Tragic Muse (location unknown).

by Martin Postle


  1. For further detail on the various documents displayed in the painting see Cole, 1897, p. 189.


Related catalogue items from Doddington Hall

  • Castle Howard Doddington Hall

    Edward Hussey Delaval

    George Francis Joseph

  • Castle Howard Doddington Hall

    Margaret Lowth, née Pitt

    Unknown Artist, ? c.1700–10

  • Castle Howard Doddington Hall

    Six Children of Rhoda and Francis Blake Delaval

    possibly Rhoda Delaval and Alexander van Aken or Joseph van Aken, c.1745