Book Id: 43130 Oval portrait miniature of Charles Babbage 162 mm. high. signed on obverse and dated by W. J Newton. Inscribed on reverse Mr. Babbage. In original red morocco hinged case on which is stamped "Charles Babbage, 1851. by Sir William John Newton. No. 192" Charles Babbage.

Oval portrait miniature of Charles Babbage 162 mm. high. signed on obverse and dated by W. J Newton. Inscribed on reverse Mr. Babbage. In original red morocco hinged case on which is stamped "Charles Babbage, 1851. by Sir William John Newton. No. 192"

Publisher Information: 1851.

Babbage, Charles (1791-1871). Oval portrait in color by Sir William John Newton (1785-1869), signed and dated on the obverse by Newton (“W J Newton 1851”; obscured by the mat), inscribed “Mr. Babbage” on the reverse. 162 x 140 mm. (visible portion). Set in rectangular morocco hinged case measuring 214 x 189 mm., with tooled inscription on the front cover: “Charles Babbage. 1851./by/Sir William John Newton./No. 192” (light edgewear). Fine.

Excellent portrait of Babbage, and, to our knowledge, the only full-color image of him drawn from life. The portrait is by William John Newton, miniature-painter in ordinary to Queen Victoria and one of the most fashionable miniature-painters of his day. Newton was also a pioneer in photography, devising an improved method of producing calotype negatives and promoting soft-focus photography as a means of producing artistic images.

Babbage is, of course, best known as one the first pioneers of computing: He invented a Difference Engine for automatically generating mathematical tables, and originated the concept of a programmable computer in his design for what he called the Analytical Engine, a theoretical device possessing all the essential logical features of a modern general-purpose computer. A man of wide interests, he also published works on mathematics, economics and geology, and was a vocal critic of Britain’s scientific establishment.

Newton’s portrait captures Babbage at an interesting time in his life, as it was completed in 1851, the year of London’s famous Great Exhibition celebrating progress in the world’s arts and manufactures. Babbage had wanted to enter his Difference Engine no. 1 into the exhibition, but was rejected by the Exhibition’s organizers, even though the Difference Engine was arguably the finest product of British precision mechanical engineering at that time. Angered at this slight, Babbage published The Exposition of 1851; or, Views of the Industry, the Science and the Government of England (1851), a vitriolic account in which he skewered the insularity and snobbism of the Exhibition’s organizers, put forth his own ideas about how the exhibition should have been run, and sounded off on the corrupt state of science in England.

Newton’s portrait of Babbage was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1851 and again at the New Gallery in 1892. Regarding Newton see Linda Goforth Zillman, Sir William Newton, Minature painter and photographer 1785-1869, Tempe, Arizona: Arizona State University,1986.

Book Id: 43130

Price: $50,000.00

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