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Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count von Rumford (1753-1814), Scientist; founder of the Royal Institution

Sitter in 9 portraits
Born and raised in Massachusetts, Thompson arrived in England in 1776, where he conducted experiments with gunpowder. He served (1780-81) as undersecretary of the colonies, and later entered the service of the elector of Bavaria. He was knighted in 1784 and in 1791 was created count of the Holy Roman Empire. Returning to England in 1795, Thompson introduced improvements for chimneys and fireplaces and invented the double boiler, and the kitchen range. He developed a more accurate theory of heat, claiming in a paper he presented to the Royal Society in 1798, that heat was produced by the motion of particles, contradicting the accepted caloric theory of heat. He founded the Royal Institution in London in 1799.

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1332

Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count von Rumford

after Moritz Kellerhoven
oil on canvas, feigned oval, (1792)
NPG 1332

1075

Men of Science Living in 1807-8

by Sir John Gilbert, and Frederick John Skill, and William Walker, and Elizabeth Walker (nee Reynolds)
pencil and wash, 1858-1862
NPG 1075

1075a

Engraving after 'Men of Science Living in 1807-8'

by George Zobel, and William Walker
engraving, 1862
NPG 1075a

D12740

Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count von Rumford ('The comforts of a Rumford stove')

by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey
hand-coloured etching and stipple engraving, published 12 June 1800
NPG D12740

D13036

'Scientific researches! - new discoveries in pneumaticks! - or - an experimental lecture on the powers of air'

by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey
hand-coloured etching, published 23 May 1802
NPG D13036

D5850

Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count von Rumford

by Charles Middlemist, published by I.W.H. Payne, after Henriette Rath
stipple engraving, published 1 January 1815
NPG D5850

D15594

Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count von Rumford

by Joseph Peter Paul Rauschmayer, after Georg von Dillis
stipple engraving, 1797
NPG D15594

D15593

Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count von Rumford ('The comforts of a Rumford stove')

by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey
hand-coloured etching and stipple engraving, published 12 June 1800
NPG D15593