London Gallery Exhibits Portraits Of Astronomers

National Portrait Gallery, London will run an exhibition named Portraits of Astronomers as a part of International Year of Astronomy 2009, running through 12 July 2009, at Room 38 a.

A newly-commissioned painted portrait of the Astronomer Royal, Martin Rees, Baron Rees, President of the Royal Society, will form the focus of a display to celebrate the International Year of Astronomy. This new portrait will be shown alongside recent photographs of astronomers by Lucinda Douglas-Menzies, and further portraits from the National Portrait Gallery’s Collection.

Lord Rees is currently Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics, University of Cambridge and President of the Royal Society. Interested in both the scientific and philosophical aspects of cosmology, Lord Rees’s research interests are in ‘extreme’ cosmic phenomena, black holes, cosmic structure formation and ‘dark matter’.

His portrait has been painted by artist Benjamin Sullivan who is a regular exhibitor in the BP Portrait Award. Sullivan wished to show Rees primarily as an educator and communicator who has reached a general audience through publications and lectures.

The display will include a group of recently-acquired photographs of UK astronomers by acclaimed photographer Lucinda Douglas- Menzies. Her black and white portraits range from scientists involved with early discoveries in radio astronomy right up to those engaged in the latest developments in astrophysics and cosmology.

These portraits include Sir Arnold Wolfendale, Len Culhane, Dame Carole Jordan, Roger Penrose and John Peacock. Her book Portraits of Astronomers (published March 2009, in association with the Science Museum) includes thirty-eight portraits, biographies and notes of inspiration, of which the ten to be shown in the display are a selection.

Further portraits of astronomers from the Collection at the National Portrait Gallery will also be on display, including Sir Patrick Moore by Carolyn Djanogly, Sir Bernard Lovell by Ed Barber, Jocelyn Bell Burnell by Julia Hedgecoe, and Stephen Hawking by David Gamble. -- www.npg.org.uk