Thomas Earnshaw (1749–1829)

Image credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

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A half-length portrait to the left seated, wearing a brown coat and yellow waistcoat. His right hand rests on a table holding a quill beyond which is a standard Earnshaw-type chronometer and he faces forwards to meet the gaze of the viewer. Thomas Earnshaw was a watchmaker who improved and simplified the pioneering chronometer designs of John Harrison (1693–1776) and John Arnold (1736–1799), and who could be described as the father of the modern chronometer. He devised the spring detent chronometer escapement and his own form of temperature-compensated chronometer balance in 1782, and was the first to make chronometers that were simple and cheap enough to make them viable instruments of navigation. It was his design of chronometer which would eventually be employed in the ships of virtually every navy of the world.

National Maritime Museum



Thomas Earnshaw (1749–1829)




oil on canvas


H 76.2 x W 63.5 cm

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