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Our changing relationship with the natural world, from Tudor to Victorian times

Eighteenth Century

This portrait of George III forms part of the series of fifteen portraits probably commissioned by Queen Charlotte of the royal family. They were painted at Windsor in September and October 1782. On 30 October the Morning Herald reported that Gainsborough

George III (1738-1820) ©

In the eighteenth century, the natural sciences began to split into different branches as scientists tried to work out how to catalogue the diversity of the natural world. Naturalists travelled even further than they had done previously to find and record new specimens. 

Lots of naturalists started to develop networks across the world so that they could easily share ideas with one another. George III was also interested in nature, writing articles in farming journals and seeking out the best ways to improve his parks in Windsor, Richmond and at Kew Palace. He worked closely with some of the biggest names in eighteenth-century science, including the botanist Sir Joseph Banks, and built up a huge library of books on natural history. Such was the king’s love for the subject that people gave him the nickname ‘Farmer’ George.