Faraday and the Artists

An online exhibition looking at the life and work of Michael Faraday with particular emphasis on his work as a lecturer, his travels in Europe, his correspondence with artists and his interest in photography.

Letter written to Faraday from Harriet Moore referring to his recent illness. Pen and ink drawing of a spring surrounded by trees. Ref. SCMSS 2/2/158/1

Faraday was a prolific correspondent, exchanging letters with politicians, writers and artists as well with professional and amateur scientists. The new science of electricity and magnetism had captured the public imagination and Faraday was a key public figure. Not only did he make stunning discoveries, but he brought international research to the public through the Royal Institution lectures. 

In the 1850s, Faraday was consulted on a range of questions concerning the care of works of art. He advised the Government on the best means of protecting paintings held in the National Gallery from both the London smog and the general public. He was also consulted on the preservation of statues in the British Museum, including the Elgin marbles which had become dirty and corroded. 

Despite attempts to clean the stone with dilute nitric acid, Faraday could only advise on how the Museum could prevent further deterioration.

 

Letter from Harriet Moore to Faraday referring to his visit to Norwood. Watercolour drawing of house and grounds. Ref. SCMSS 2/2/158/2

Faraday was also the subject of a number of paintings. His portrait was painted several times and in the early 1850s the artist Harriet Moore painted a series of works showing Faraday in his laboratories.

Two letters shown here are from Harriet Moore to Faraday. The first refers to Faraday's illness and has a pen and ink drawing of a spring surrounded by trees. The second, written at The Cedars, Sunning Hill, Berkshire, refers to Faraday's visit to Norwood. The watercolour drawing is of the house and grounds.

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