3 of 5 portraits of Charles Babbage
by Antoine Claudet
daguerreotype, circa 1847-1851
2 3/4 in. x 2 3/8 in. (70 mm x 60 mm)
Sitterback to top
- Charles Babbage (1791-1871), Mathematician and computer pioneer. Sitter in 5 portraits.
Artistback to top
- Antoine Claudet (1797-1867), Photographer and inventor. Artist associated with 43 portraits.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Victorian Portraits Resource Pack, p. 19
- Cooper, John, Visitor's Guide, 2000, p. 81
- Funnell, Peter, Victorian Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery Collection, 1996, p. 19
- Funnell, Peter (introduction); Marsh, Jan, A Guide to Victorian and Edwardian Portraits, 2011, p. 25 Read entry
Even by the Victorian standards, Charles Babbage (1791-1871) was a formidable polymath. He was a mathematician, scientist and inventor, a political economist and a social reformer. But he is best remembered today as a pioneer of computer technology and the inventor of the calculating machine; the development of his Difference Engine and, later, his Analytical Engine, dominated his life’s work. A native of Lyon, France, Claudet came to England in 1829 and in the 1840s became a leading practitioner of the daguerreotype. Claudet was working with Babbage on various photographic experiments around the time this portrait was taken.
- Hart-Davis, Adam, Chain Reactions, 2000, p. 73
- John Cooper, National Portrait Gallery Visitor's Guide, 2006, p. 81
- Piper, David, The English Face, 1992, p. 201
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 26
Events of 1847back to top
Current affairsThe 10 Hours Factory Act passed, regulating working hours for women and children under the age of eighteen to a maximum of ten hours a day.
The Communist League is founded in London, and drew up a set of rules and aims, including overthrowing the bourgeoisie and empowering the Proleteriat, and ending class division, forming the basis of Karl Marx's The Communist Manifesto (1848).}
Death and emigration resulting from starvation, plague and disease during worst year of the Great Famine in Ireland, known as Black 47.
Art and scienceA good year for novels: Emily Bronte's passionate, rebellious and gothic Wuthering Heightsis published, followed shortly by her sister Charlotte's 'Jane Eyre, a story of a governess's struggle for liberty from social and gender constrictions. Drawing on a similar vein of revolution and rebellious women, William Thackeray's satirical novel Vanity Fair is serialised.
The Don Pacifico affair sparks an international incident, when the Jewish trader's business was burned in an anti-semitic attack in Athens. When the Greek government refused to compensate him, Gibraltar-born Pacifico appealed to the British government. Foreign Minister Palmerston sent a squadron into the Aegean in 1850 to seize goods of the equivalent value, leading to strained relations with Turkey and Russia, and heated debates in Parliament.
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