Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Re-imagining John Wesley

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Re-imagining John Wesley

Who this event is for

  • Everyone


Lincoln College, Turl Street, Oxford OX1 3DR


The face of John Wesley (1703–91), the Methodist leader, became one of the most familiar images in the English-speaking and transatlantic worlds through the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. After a small number of portraits were made during his lifetime came many posthumous portraits and moralising ‘scene paintings’, and hundreds of variations of prints. It was calculated that six million copies were produced of one print alone – an 1827 portrait by John Jackson R.A. as frontispiece for a hymn-book.

This lecture will explore how while Methodism distanced itself from its founder in many ways in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it took closer ownership of visual representations of Wesley.

Peter S. Forsaith is a historian of religion, culture and society in eighteenth-century Britain. He is Research Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Methodism and Church History, Oxford Brookes University, U.K. and has written and lectured on many aspects of Methodist history. He has researched Images of Wesley over more than 25 years, which has recently been published as Image, Identity and John Wesley: a study in portraiture [Routledge, 2018].