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Charles Darwin

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Charles Darwin

by Ernest Edwards
albumen print, 1865-1866
11 1/8 in. x 9 3/8 in. (283 mm x 239 mm)
Purchased, 1975
Photographs Collection
NPG x1500

Sitterback to top

  • Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882), Naturalist, geologist and originator of the theory of evolution. Sitter in 35 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Ernest Edwards (1837-1903), Photographer. Artist associated with 154 portraits.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Rogers, Malcolm, Camera Portraits, 1989 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 20 October 1989 - 21 January 1990), p. 85 Read entry

    No scientist had a greater impact on Victorian attitudes than Darwin, whose theory of evolution, expressed in The Origin of Species (1859), destroyed the old biblical myth of creation.

    He was photographed by Ernest Edwards for Edward Walford's Representative Men in Literature, Science and Art (1868), and is portrayed as a typical Victorian elder, lost in sober contemplation, very different from the young man who sailed on The Beagle to South America. For all his eminence Darwin remained modest and polite, judging himself only 'superior to the common run of men in noticing things which easily escape attention, and in observing them carefully'.

    Edwards, who had a studio at 20 Baker Street, London, from 1864, specialized in portraiture and topographical work, and he published with H. B. George The Oberland and its Glaciers Explored and Illustrated with Ice-Axe and Camera in 1866. He developed an early form of pocket camera, and invented the heliotype (1869), a modified form of collotype reproduction. The first book to be illustrated with heliotypes was Darwin's The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872).

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Events of 1865back to top

Current affairs

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson is the first female to be awarded a doctor's licence. She is also involved in collecting signatures for the Manchester Suffrage Committee, the first suffrage organisation, formed this year. John Stuart Mill was also elected to parliament this year on the platform of women's suffrage.
Palmerston dies in October, and is replaced as leader of the Liberal government by his Foreign Secretary, Lord Russell.

Art and science

Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland is published, inspired by Carroll's relationship (as Oxford don Sir Charles Dodgson) with his friend Henry George Liddell's daughter Alice.
Matthew Arnold publishes the first series of Essays in Criticism, a defining text in the development of English literature as an academic discipline.

International

In the American civil war, Robert E. Lee surrenders the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant, leading to the surrender of the Confederacy's remaining field armies. A few days later, US President Abraham Lincoln is shot dead by Confederate sympathiser John Wilkes Booth. Later this year slavery is officially abolished after years of fierce campaigning. In response, the first branch of the Ku Klux Klan is founded on Christmas Eve.

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