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Distributed for Reaktion Books

Defining Features

Scientific and Medical Portraits, 1660-2000

Distributed for Reaktion Books

Defining Features

Scientific and Medical Portraits, 1660-2000

Portraiture as a genre is receiving increased attention at the same time that public curiosity about science is reaching unprecedented levels. Published to coincide with a major exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, London, from 14 April – 17 September 2000, and the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, University of East Anglia, from 27 September – 10 December 2000, Defining Features brings portraiture and science together.

Ludmilla Jordanova’s lucid text reflects on the nature of the relationship between art, science, medicine and technology by focusing on a selection of portraits that spans more than three centuries. Illustrated with likenesses of such notable personalities as Edward Jenner, Marie Curie, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein and Dorothy Hodgkin, and encompassing a variety of media from paintings and medals to bookmarks and key rings, Defining Features charts changing attitudes towards medical practice and scientific investigation, as well as exploring how notions of gender, heroism, popularization and celebrity have affected the public’s understanding of how researchers do their work.

Distribution by the University of Chicago Press only to customers in the USA and Canada. Customers elsewhere should visit the UK website of Reaktion Books.

192 pages

Art: Art--General Studies

History of Science


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"This is an important study and obligatory reading for anyone looking at portraits of doctors and scientists."

Medical History

"This beautifully produced book . . . succeeds in stimulating a fresh discussion of scientific portraiture. After this, we will all look with keener eyes at those familiar portraits that adorn the walls of the Royal Society or hang in splendour, tier upon tier, in the Royal College of Physicians."


Table of Contents

Foreword by Charles Saumarez Smith
Preface and Acknowledgements
I. Introducing Portraiture
II. Boundaries
III. Gender and Scientific Heroism
IV. Portraiture in Practice
Select Bibliography
List of Illustrations

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