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Sir Frederick Augusta Barnard (1743–1830), Librarian to George III

Photo credit: The Trustees of the British Museum

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The Old Royal Library of the Sovereigns of England having been given to the British Museum by George II, his successor, the scholarly George III, was determined to build up his own library worthy of a monarch. Barnard, who joined the royal household in the mid 1760s and in 1774 was appointed Librarian, has been described as the 'true creator of the King’s Library'. In 1823 George IV offered the library to the nation. It was allocated by Parliament to the British Museum and funds were provided for a new building. Barnard oversaw the transfer and, although never a member of the Museum staff, received a Museum pension on his retirement in 1829. The portrait, in which the sitter wears the insignia of the Royal Guelphic Order, was presented by his great-great-granddaughter.

British Museum





oil on canvas


H 123.2 x W 100 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

gift from a descendant, Mrs L. A. Johnson, 1926; on loan to the British Library, since 1990

Work type



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British Museum

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