Portrait of John Wesley


Portrait of John Wesley
After John Jackson (1778–1831)
Oil on linen, c. 1827
Bridwell Library purchase, 1979

This small painting is an early study or contemporary copy of John Jackson’s portrait of John Wesley (1703–1791), founder of Methodism, in the collection of the Epworth Old Rectory, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom. The Old Rectory was the boyhood home of John and Charles Wesley and features prominently in Wesleyan lore.

John Jackson, English portraitist, was the son of a Yorkshire tailor destined to fall into his father’s career but for the support of the First Earl of Musgrove, Henry Phipps, who recognized John’s talent. With connections provided by Phipps, Jackson was able to study in London at the Royal Academy, and was elected to full membership in 1817. In 1819 Jackson became a member of the Accademia di San Luca, an artists’ association in Rome. Jackson’s commissions included portraits of British nobility, various public figures, and Wesleyan ministers. Among his best-known works is a portrait of Venetian sculptor Antonio Canova, also a member of the Accademia di San Luca and Principi at the time of Jackson’s election.

An engraving after Jackson’s portrait of Wesley by James Barton Longacre (1794–1869), is also in the Bridwell Library collection. Longacre was Chief Engraver of the United States Mint, known for designing the Indian-head penny and other mid-nineteenth century U. S. coins. Longacre’s son Andrew (1831–1906), a young Methodist minister, accepted the invitation of family friend, the Rev. John McClintock, pastor of the American Chapel in Paris, to serve as his assistant. The young Longacre’s self-illustrated journals and manuscript letters describing his travels throughout Europe and Asia with a friend in 1860 to 1862, available in the Bridwell Library archives, were featured in the exhibition A Methodist Minister in Paris.

Director's Office and Conference Room
Portrait of John Wesley