Portraits of Astronomers

Past display archive
21 March - 16 August 2009

Room 38a


John Campbell Brown by Lucinda Douglas-Menzies

John Campbell Brown
by Lucinda Douglas-Menzies

This display of portraits celebrates the International Year of Astronomy, which marks the four hundredth anniversary of the first astronomical observation through a telescope by Galileo Galilei.

Forming the focus of this display is Benjamin Sullivan’s recently completed portrait of astrophysicist Lord Rees, President of the Royal Society and Astronomer Royal. Commissioned by the Gallery, it was painted in Rees’s study in Trinity College, Cambridge.

Also recently acquired are ten black and white photographs by Lucinda Douglas-Menzies showing individuals who work across various disciplines of astronomy including mathematics, physics, radio astronomy, astrophysics, cosmology and philosophy. This selection is taken from her book Portraits of Astronomers (March 2009) that includes thirty-eight portraits, biographies and notes
of inspiration.

Douglas-Menzies began her training as assistant to architectural photographer Jeremy Whitaker, and to Sydney Harris, press and public relations photographer. In 1986 she opened her own studio, specialising in fine art photography and portraiture. She has produced numerous exhibition catalogues for London galleries and museums as well as receiving portrait commissions. Since 1987 the National Portrait Gallery has acquired over seventy of Douglas-Menzies’s photographs.

Other respected figures in astronomy are represented here in photographs by David Gamble, Julia Hedgecoe, Ed Barber and Carolyn Djanogly.

For further information about the International Year of Astronomy: www.astronomy2009.org

Star Gazing: the Development of Astronomy in the Eighteenth Century. A collection of prints and an oil painting of Adam Walker and his family by George Romney (NPG 1106) are on display at Beningbrough Hall until February 2010.

Portraits of Astronomers is available from the National Portrait Gallery bookshop, priced £12.50.

Portraits of Astronomers lunchtime lecture: 13.00, Thursday 2 July 2009, Ondaatje Wing Theatre:
Lucinda Douglas-Menzies discusses her project.