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Thomas Henry Huxley

11 of 22 portraits on display in Room 27 at the National Portrait Gallery

Thomas Henry Huxley, by John Collier, 1883 - NPG 3168 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Thomas Henry Huxley

by John Collier
oil on canvas, 1883
50 in. x 40 in. (1270 mm x 1016 mm)
Given by the sitter's son, Henry Huxley, 1943
Primary Collection
NPG 3168


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  • John Collier (1850-1934), Portrait painter and writer on art. Artist associated with 21 portraits, Sitter in 7 portraits.

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Thomas Huxley was a key figure in Victorian scientific life. He worked tirelessly to improve scientific education and served on many Royal Commissions on education and public health. Huxley made important discoveries in several branches of biology and was a vigorous champion of the evolutionary theories of Darwin but tended to antagonise moderate opinion with his aggressive style of argument. He is seen in this portrait holding a skull and resting his arm on a pile of books. Close examination of the painting reveals that Collier had originally chosen to depict two skulls, presumably of apes, resting on the table.

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