Thomas Henry Huxley
11 of 20 portraits on display in Room 27 at the National Portrait Gallery
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
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Sitterback to top
- Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895), Biologist and science educationist. Sitter in 47 portraits.
Artistback to top
- John Collier (1850-1934), Portrait painter and writer on art. Artist associated with 21 portraits, Sitter in 7 portraits.
This portraitback to top
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.
Linked publicationsback to top
Events of 1883back to top
Current affairsFollowing the Secret Ballot Act (1872), the Corrupt and Illegal Practices Act was a further measure introduced by Gladstone's government with the intention of limiting bribery and intimidation in elections. Candidates' expenses were published, and a strict limit set on expenses, and it also enabled poorer candidates to stand for parliament.
Art and scienceThe Royal College of Music founded in London, with the British musicologist George Grove as its first director.
Monet moves to Giverny, a village along the Seine, where he lives until his death in 1926. Renting a farmhouse he later buys, Monet designs a pond, redesigns the garden, and begins to paint some of his most recognisable images of water lilies, flower beds and the Japanese footbridge.