Photograph by Maull & Polyblank. Thomas Bell.

Photograph by Maull & Polyblank

Publisher Information: 1855.

Bell, Thomas (1792-1880). Cabinet-size photographic portrait by Maull and Polyblank, mounted on heavy paper printed with gilt borders. [London, 1855.] 198 x 146 mm. (image); 303 x 253 mm. (mount). Traces of mounting on verso, but fine otherwise.

Excellent portrait of British zoologist Thomas Bell, who described the reptile specimens brought back by Charles Darwin from the Beagle expedition and was the author of several illustrated books on natural history, including A Monograph of the Testudinata (1832-36) and A History of the British Stalk-Eyed Crustacea (1844-53). Bell played a significant role in the inception of Darwin’s theory of evolution when he confirmed that the giant Galapagos tortoises were native to the islands rather than imported by buccaneers for food as Darwin had originally thought. He also chaired the momentous 1 July 1858 meeting of the Linnean Society at which Darwin and Wallace presented their joint paper on the theory of evolution by natural selection.

Victorian photographers Henry Maull (1829-1914) and George Polyblank set up their first studio in 1854, specializing in portraits of literary, artistic and scientific notables. The present portrait of Bell is from Maull & Polyblank’s series Literary and Scientific Men, issued in 1855.

Book Id: 45679

Price: $950.00

See all items by