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Darwin Correspondence Project

1.20 Leopold Flameng etching, after Collier

Almost as soon as Collier’s portrait of Darwin was put on display at the Linnean Society in 1882, requests for permission to reproduce it flooded in, from book and print publishers. Collier himself often felt, with some justification, that he had insufficient or uncertain copyright protection for the image he had created, given that this copyright was shared with the Linnean Society and the National Portrait Gallery. He complained that the many photogravures that were produced for illustrated publications harmed the sale of the one print he had approved – an etching by Léopold Joseph Flameng. This had been published by the Fine Art Society in 1883, and shown at the Royal Academy in that same year; copies were to be awarded to Fellows of the Linnean Society at nominal cost. William Darwin also owned an impression, which he lent to the ‘Victorian Exhibition’ of 1891–2 and to the exhibition accompanying the first International Eugenics Congress in 1912: on both occasions, the catalogue entries implied that it was taken from the 1883 version of the portrait, i.e. the one commissioned by William himself, which passed to the NPG. However, this seems open to doubt, given the involvement of the Linnean Society in its production, as mentioned above.     

Flameng was a French engraver who specialised in high-quality reproductive prints, especially from Old Master paintings. It is therefore not surprising that, in its concept and technique, this print emulated Rajon’s etching from the portrait of Darwin by Ouless, and it too aspired to be a work of art in its own right. Flameng, like Rajon, issued some impressions of his print with ‘remarque’ marginal sketches, as he did also in an etching from Collier’s portrait of Huxley. The portrait heads which he etched lightly but arrestingly in the bottom border of the Darwin print are readily identified.  A profile of Collier in the centre is flanked by Darwin on the left and Flameng on the right. One impression with these ‘remarques’ is in the collection of Professor William Friedman; in another, now in the Zoology Department at Cambridge, Collier and Flameng seem to have provided autograph signatures below their portraits.  

A successor to Flameng’s print in the form of a coloured mezzotint by George Sidney Hunt was later published, with the stamp of the Fine Art Trade Guild. Impressions in the National Portrait Gallery (NPG D49370) and in the collection of Professor Friedman have the autograph signatures of Collier and Hunt in the lower margin. Hunt died in 1917, but the print was apparently issued or reissued after his death: printed above the image is an inscription, ‘Published 1922 by the Museum Galleries 26 Museum Street London WC Copyright’.  

  • physical location Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge 

  • accession or collection number none 

  • copyright holder University of Cambridge 

  • originator of image Léopold Flameng after John Collier 

  • date of creation 1883 

  • computer-readable date c.1883-01-01 to 1883-04-30 

  • medium and material etching 

  • references and bibliography Linnean Society Council Minute Book no. 6 (1881–1891), pp. 48, 53–54, 59, 63, correspondence with publishers and with John Collier over reproduction rights for his painting of Darwin. Linnean Society archive, BL/3/5, BL/3/7 and BL/5/3, further correspondence with commercial publishers. The Victorian Exhibition; illustrating fifty years of Her Majesty’s reign, 1837–1887, at the New Gallery, London, 1891–1892, pp. 81–82. ‘Department of Zoology, restored Darwin etching’ (with some incorrect information about the first version of Collier’s portrait) at, accessed January 2020. Algernon Graves, The Royal Academy of Arts: A Complete Dictionary of Exhibitors (London: Henry Graves and George Bell, 1905), vol. 3, Flameng’s etching shown in 1883, no. 1370. First International Eugenics Congress, London, July 24th to July 30th, 1912; University of London, South Kensington, Catalogue of the Exhibition (London: Charles Knight, [1912]). p. 1, B4. 


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