James Smithson Memorial Tablet

ID: 53255 or MAH-53255

Creator: Unknown

Form/Genre: Photographic print

Date: c. 1963

Citation: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 95, Box 21, Folder: 6

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  • Smithson Tablet erected by the Regents of the Smithsonian Institution to commemorate James Smithson, founding donor of the Smithsonian Institution, who died near Genoa, Italy on June 27, 1829. This memorial marker was hung in the Anglo-American (Anglican) Church of the Holy Ghost, Genoa, Italy, after the original one was destroyed when the church was bombed during World War II.
  • Three copies of the Smithson Tablet or memorial plaque were made in bronze and two copies were made in Carrara marble. The artist for the plaque design was William Ordway Partridge of New York City. The plaque features a carved profile of James Smithson with the inscription, "James Smithson -- FRS -- Founder of the Smithsonian Institution -- Washington. Erected by the Regents of the Institution 1896." Initially, two bronze copies were cast in 1896. One was placed at the Smithson grave site outside Genoa and one was installed in the nearby Church of the Holy Ghost.
  • The memorial plaque at the grave site was later stolen and replaced with a facsimile of Carrara marble in 1900. That plaque was brought to Washington, D.C., in 1904, when Smithson's remains were moved to the Smithsonian and remains in the Crypt Room of the Smithsonian Castle today. The bronze in the Church of the Holy Ghost was lost during World War II; the church was gutted by fire and many artifacts were lost. A replacement marble facsimile was carved by Rafaello Romanelli of Florence and installed in 1963. A third bronze copy of the memorial plaque was cast and sent to Pembroke College, Oxford University, where Smithson attended school, in 1898, where it remains today.


  • Smithson, James 1765-1829
  • Romanelli, Rafaello
  • Partridge, William Ordway 1861-1930
  • Smithson Memorial Tablet


Historic Images of the Smithsonian


See also negative # 11812, #53254 and #10226-A

Contained within

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 95, Box 21, Folder: 6

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520, SIHistory@si.edu


c. 1963

Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions


  • Anglo-American Church of the Holy Ghost
  • Art
  • Memorials
  • Benefactors
  • Dedications (Ceremony)
  • Church buildings
  • World War, 1939-1945
  • Art objects


Genoa (Italy)


  • Photographic print
  • Engraving

ID Number

53255 or MAH-53255

Physical description

Color: Black and White; Size: 8 x 10; Type of Image: Engraving; Medium: Photographic print

Full Record

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