‘The whole man at once:’ Scientific identities at the Dibner Library – Maria Gaetana Agnesi

“George Sarton, a founder of the history of science as an academic discipline, argued that scholars should pay close attention to portraits. These images, he said, can give you ‘the whole man at once.’ With a ‘great portrait,’ Sarton believed, ‘you are given immediately some fundamental knowledge of him, which even the longest descriptions and discussions would fail to evoke.’ Sarton’s ideas led Bern Dibner to purchase portrait prints of men and more »

‘The whole man at once’: scientific identities at the Dibner Library

George Sarton, a founder of the history of science as an academic discipline, argued that scholars should pay close attention to portraits. These images, he said, can give you ‘the whole man at once.’ With a ‘great portrait,’ Sarton believed, ‘you are given immediately some fundamental knowledge of him, which even the longest descriptions and discussions would fail to evoke.’ Sarton’s ideas led Bern Dibner to purchase portrait prints of men and women of science and technology. Many of these are now in the Smithsonian’s Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology. – Deborah Jean Warner, Curator, Physical Sciences Collection   A picture may tell 1000 words, but another 500 for context can add depth to the image. Follow this blog series to discover the people behind the portraits available online in the Scientific Identity collection. Joseph Jerome Le Francais de Lalande (1732-1807) Had Joseph Jerome Le Francis de Lalande chosen a different place of lodging, he may very well have become a barrister or priest in the more »

Joyeux Anniversaire, Felix Nadar!

Tomorrow, April 6th, would mark the 193rd birthday of Felix Nadar. Nadar, aeronautical scientist and photographer, became an unexpected star of the Smithsonian Libraries’ Dibner Portrait collection in The Commons on Flickr. Although probably not a household name these days (and definitely not under his given name – Gaspard-Félix Tournachon), Nadar was quite a character in 19th century France. Luminaries of all kinds, including George Sand and Marcel Proust, flocked to his Paris photography studio for portrait sittings. He was also a regular contributor to several French comic papers.

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