The Centre for History of Science has launched an online picture database of historical images from the Society’s collections.

Joanna Hopkins, Picture Curator, explains: “The website will act as a showcase for the organisation’s extensive picture resources and it is hoped that it will provide a valuable tool for researchers.

Portrait of John Evelyn by Godfrey Kneller ca. 1687. © The Royal Society

Portrait of John Evelyn by Godfrey Kneller ca. 1687. © The Royal Society

The new resource will enable the Centre for History of Science to reach a broader national and international audience—not just historians of science, but also researchers in the humanities and arts, the education sector and the wider public—thereby aiding the exploration of science through its visual history.”

A core part of the website’s content will be the Royal Society’s portrait collection. This consists of a known 300 original works of art by such notable artists as Peter Lely, Joshua Reynolds and Godfrey Kneller.

In addition to portraits, the website will provide the chance to bring to light the other less well known (and perhaps unexpected) images in the collections. Pictures run through all the many and varied archive collections, from hurried pencil sketches in the margins of notebooks to intricate red chalk drawings of microscope observations to detailed and precise engineering plans. Further images will be added regularly, both as a means of promoting the resource and to make available new material as it is digitized and catalogued.

Joanna says: “There is no endpoint, of course, because items are regularly acquired by the Royal Society as part of its ongoing acquisitions policy. As time goes by the website will continue to grow into a rich and dynamic resource of historical imagery covering the past 351 years of the Society’s history and of all scientific discovery and innovation.”

Read more on the Centre for History of Science blog.

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