Reading Museum Town Hall

Reading Museum

Search the Collections

George Lovejoy

Oil on canvas by Charles R. Havell - about 1850

completed for accessibility and SEO

George Lovejoy attributed to Charles R. Havell, about 1850

Reading born and educated, George Lovejoy (1808-1883) became a well-known figure in the town. He established the Southern Counties Library (known as Lovejoy's Library) which was to become the largest outside London (by 1883 it had 70-80,000 volumes). He also supported the setting up of a free library in the town. A man of strong principles, he was a member of the Temperance Movement and the Peace Society and supported the abolition of capital punishment. His customers and correspondents included many well-known figures, but he also took a great interest in the 'welfare and advancement' of the young.

Charles Havell (1828-1892) belonged to a well-known and talented Berkshire family of musicians and painters. He was involved in establishing Reading Government Art School in 1860. In his confident portrayal of Lovejoy, Havell has created an impression of a man comfortable in his own skin. The head and shoulders pose has an intimacy not unlike that in a photograph. Havell does not flatter his sitter but creates a real character whose energetic enterprises and connections with accomplished people of the day can be believed. Lovejoy is made at ease in his usual clothes and his facial features and hair are honestly treated in a portrait without pretence and of some integrity.

Museum object number REDMG : 1931.150.1

width 495 mm, height 596 mm

See related topic: Early portraits: highlights