Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Thomas Gainsborough, British (Sudbury, England 1727 - 1788 London, England)
Sir Benjamin Thompson, later Count Rumford (1753-1814)
Other Titles
Former Title: Count Rumford
Work Type
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Oil on canvas
75.7 x 62.7 cm (29 13/16 x 24 11/16 in.)
framed: 99.8 x 88 cm (39 5/16 x 34 5/8 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • label: back of frame, black ink, printed and handwritten: [printed:] SMITH COLLEGE MUSEUM OF ART LOAN / [handwritten:] Study
Commissioned from the artist by the sitter, Benjamin Thompson, London, August/September 1783. Possibly Miss Cox [?], England, by inheritance; to Winterbottom family, c. 1830/40, by descent; to Augustus Winterbottom, sold; to Edmund C. Converse, Greenwich, CT, 1910, bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1921.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Edmund C. Converse
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

John S.A. Phillips, Benjamin Thompson. American Paradox: 1753-1814, Harvard Magazine, Harvard University (July-August 1984), pp.32-33, pp. 32-33, reproduced [in color]

Maurice Brockwell, Gainsborough's American Sitter, Art In America (December 1917), VI, 1, pp. 20-24, pp. 20-24, reproduced

Maurice Brockwell, Gainsborough's Portrait of the Tomkinson Boys, Art In America (April 1919), p. 121

Museum Has New Gainsborough, Christian Science Monitor (February 16, 1922), p. 3, reproduced, p. 3, reproduced

Richard W. Hale, Benjamin Thompson: Count Rumford, Technology Review (November 1931), XXXIV, 2, p.1, p. 1, reproduced

Sir Benjamin Thompson, Boston Evening Transcript, May 9, 1931

Lewis Einstein, Divided Loyalties: Americans in England During the War of Independence, Houghton Mifflin Company (Boston and New York, 1933), ill. opp. p. 124

Marcy S. Powell, Count Rumford: Soldier, Statesman, Scientist, American Physics Teacher (December 1935), III, 4, p. 164, reproduced

Fogg Art Museum Handbook, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1936), ill. p. 103

Laura M. Huntsinger, Harvard Portraits: A Catalogue of Portrait Paintings at Harvard University, ed. Alan Burroughs, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1936), p. 133

Ernest R. Trattner, Architects of Ideas, Carrick & Evans (New York, 1938), reproduced

Historical Records Survey, Division of Professional and Service Projects, Works Progress Administration, American Portraits, 1620-1825, found in Massachusetts, Volumes 1 and 2, Historical Records Survey (Boston, MA, 1939), p. 404, cat. 2134

Dwight C. Harrison, Rumford as a Sociological Engineer, Scientific Monthly (December 1939), XLIX, 6, pp. 504-508, p. 507, reproduced

Raymond C. Adams, Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford, Scientific Monthly (December 1950), LXXI, 6, p. 385, reproduced

J. J. G. McCue and K. W. Sherk, The World of Atoms: An Introduction to Physical Science, Ronald Press (New York, c. 1956), p. 116, reproduced

Dwight C. Harrison, Count Rumford, Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London (March 1955), II, 2, reproduced opp. p. 189

Alexander E. Powell, The Remarkable American Count, American Heritage (December 1956), VIII, i, reproduced [in color]

Gerald Holton, Foundations of Modern Physical Science, Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers Inc. (Reading, MA, 1958), reproduced

Benedict A. Leerburger, Rogue Scientist, Product Engineering (October 31, 1960), p. 3, reproduced.

Harold Hartley, The Tercentenary of the Royal Society, American Scientist (September 1960), XLVIII, 3, reproduced fig. 9

Highlights from the Collections of the Fogg Museum and Harvard Alumni of St. Louis, exh. cat., City Art Museum of St. Louis (St. Louis, 1964), cat. 13

Robert Stollberg and Faith Fitch Hill, Physics: Fundamentals and Frontiers, Houghton Mifflin Company (Boston, MA, 1965), p. 255, reproduced.

Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture from the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, exh. cat., Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, 1967)

Paintings, Sculpture and Drawings from the Fogg Art Museum, exh. cat., Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo, NY, 1967), cat. 17

Louise Todd Ambler, Early Science at Harvard: Innovators and Their Instruments, 1765 - 1865, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, December 1969-January 1970), pp. 50-51, 76, cat. 55, ill.

National Geographic Society, Those Inventive Americans, National Geographic Society (Washington, D.C., 1971), p. 14, reproduced

Sanford Conner Brown, Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA, 1979), pp. 93 and 307-308 [Appendix 1]; reproduced fig. 9.1

Richard Walker, Regency Portraits: Volume I: Text, National Portrait Gallery (London, 1985), p. 429

Kristin A. Mortimer and William G. Klingelhofer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums and Abbeville Press (Cambridge and New York, 1986), p. 183, cat. 208, reproduced [b&w]

Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), pp. 108, cat. 7, ill. p. 61, 137

John Dornberg, Count Rumford: the most successful Yank abroad, ever, Smithsonian (December 1, 1994), pp. 102-115, p. 103, reproduced [in color]

Bettina Gockel, Kunst und Politik der Farbe: Gainsboroughs Portraitmalerei, Gebr. Mann (Berlin, Germany, 1999), pp. 157-158, ill. as abb. 147

H. G. C. Matthew, ed., Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press (UK) (Oxford, England, 2004), vol. 54, p. 404, ill.

Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr. and Melissa Renn, American Paintings at Harvard, Volume One: Paintings, Watercolors, and Pastels by Artists Born before 1826, Yale University Press (U.S.) and Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge and New Haven, 2014), p. 379

Thomas Weidner, Rumford: Rezepte für ein besseres Bayern, Hirmer Verlag and Münchner Stadtmuseum (Munich, 2014), p. 26 and n. 1 p. 29, repr. in color p. 27

Margaretta M. Lovell, Dashing for America: Frederic Remington, National Myths, and Art Historical Narratives, Panorama: Journal of the Association of Historians of American Art ([e-journal], Fall 2015), fig. 12

Eric Sartori, Rumford: Le scandaleux bienfaiteur d'Harvard, Editions de la Bisquine (Paris, 2016), repr. on cover

Exhibition History

Eighteenth Century English Paintings: An Exhibition in Honor of Professor Chauncey B. Tinker of Yale University, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 05/05/1930 - 05/19/1930

Gainsborough, Smith College Museum of Art, 01/01/1947 - 01/31/1947

Gainsborough, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 03/01/1953 - 03/31/1953

The Century of Mozart, William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art (now Nelson-Atkins), Kansas City, 01/15/1956 - 03/04/1956

100th Anniversary Exhibition, Harvard Club of New York City, 01/21/1965 - 02/19/1965

Paintings, Sculpture and Drawings from the Fogg Art Museum, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, 05/08/1967 - 06/11/1967

Paintings, Drawings, Sculpture from the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, 10/12/1967 - 12/03/1967

Early Science at Harvard, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 12/18/1969 - 02/01/1970

Early Science: Smith and Harvard. Innovations, Instruments, Documents., Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, 02/03/1971 - 03/19/1971

1776, National Maritime Museum, London, London, 04/01/1976 - 10/01/1976

Master Paintings from the Fogg Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/13/1977 - 08/31/1977

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

Related Works

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at