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Looking at Darwin: Portraits and the Making of an Icon

Janet Browne
Vol. 100, No. 3 (September 2009), pp. 542-570
DOI: 10.1086/644630
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Page Count: 29
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Looking at Darwin: Portraits and the Making of an Icon
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ABSTRACT With increased attention on the visual in the history of science, there is renewed interest in the role of portraiture and other forms of personal imagery in constructing scientific reputation and the circulation of scientific ideas. This essay indicates some directions in which researchers could push forward by studying the dissemination of pictures and portraits of Charles Darwin. Selected portraits are discussed, with particular attention paid to their circulation. The mode of production and original intent of these portraits is briefly addressed, but the thrust of the argument is to highlight subsequent shifts in usage. While self‐fashioning is an important part of the story, it is useful also to dwell on the rise and diversification of printed media in conjunction with escalating interest in Darwin as a celebrity figure. Historicizing the variety of opportunities that people have had of “looking” at Darwin adds considerably to our understanding of scientific fame.

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