Distinguished Men of Science of Great Britain
Living in 1807-8

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“Lives of great men all remind us we may make our lives sublime.”—Robert Hunt

Designed by Sir John Gilbert (1817-1897); Drawn by Frederick John Skill (1824-1881) and William Walker the Younger (1791-1867); Engraved by William Walker and Georg Zobel (1810-1881); Printed by J. Brooker. The Distinguished Men of Science of Great Britain Living in the Years 1807-8. Published by William Walker, London. 4 June 1862. Stipple engraving. 65 x 111 cm (25 ½ x 44 in). Graphic Arts Collection GA2013- in process.

William Walker (1791-1867), Memoirs of the Distinguished Men of Science of Great Britain living in the years 1807-08 (London: W. Walker & Son, 1862). “Originally compiled for the purpose of accompanying the engraving of The Distinguished Men of Science of Great Britain Living in 1807-8, assembled at the Royal Institution, to which the outline at the commencement of this work is intended to serve as a key.” Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2013- in process

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Spoiler: this scene never happened

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“We are glad to be able to inform our readers, that a large engraving has just been completed by Mr. Walker, of 64, Margaret-street, Cavendishsquare, in honour of the men of science who have done so much towards the establishment of our present commercial prosperity.”

“This work, which may well be called historical, represents fifty-one illustrious men, living in the early part of the present century, assembled in the Upper Library of the Royal Institution. The picture is divided into three groups, and comprises authentic portraits of our greatest inventors and discoverers in astronomy, chemistry, engineering machinery, and other departments of science.”

“The grouping of so large a number of figures must have been a difficult task; this has, however, been successfully accomplished by John Gilbert, the designer of the original picture, who, by a skilful combination of various attitudes, has given both grace and ease to the figures represented.”

“Among those present are Henry Cavendish (1731-1810), discoverer of hydrogen and the decomposition of water; John Dalton (1766-1844), discoverer of atomic theory; Humphry Davy (1778-1844), discoverer of sodium, potassium, barium, and magnesium; William Herschel (1738-1822), discoverer of Uranus; Edward Jenner (1749-1823), creator of the smallpox vaccination; Count Rumford (1753-1814), the American science teacher named Benjamin Thompson, who founded the Royal Institution; and James Watt (1738-1819), inventor of the steam engine.”

See: Archibald Clow, “A Re-examination of William Walker’s ‘Distinguished Men of Science’,” Annals of Science, xi (1955), pp. 183-93
and the extended essay in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: http://www.oxforddnb.com.ezproxy.princeton.edu/view/theme/97115?backToResults=list=yes|group=yes|feature=yes|aor=8|orderField=alpha