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Darwin Correspondence Project

3.17 Lock and Whitfield, 'Men of Mark'

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The ambitious series of photographs of Men of Mark, published by the firm of Lock and Whitfield between 1876 and 1883, was a successor to similar sets which had appeared in the 1850s and 1860s. This one was distinguished by its scope – it ran to seven volumes – and by the high quality of the woodburytype photographic illustrations. The brief texts and the mounted photographs in their decorative oval frames were on separate sheets, and the photographs were evidently sold loose, or in monthly parts, as well as in the bound volumes.  

Darwin appears at the end of the third series or volume, published in 1878, rounding off a miscellany of politicians, military and naval leaders, clerics, writers, artists, doctors and scientists. Lock and Whitfield’s work is a celebration of national achievement and distinction per se. Thus more space is given in Thompson Cooper’s text to Darwin’s lineage, adventurous early life, awards and honours, than to the admitted ‘controversy’ excited by Origin and Descent of Man. The photograph is a prosaic three-quarter view, which once again demonstrates the difference between commercial studio photographs of Darwin and the more subjective and gratifying images created by Julia Margaret Cameron, Rejlander and Darwin’s own sons. Lock and Whitfield’s production was ignored by Francis Darwin in his catalogue of portraits of his father, and was not included in the Centenary exhibition at Cambridge in 1909.  

Like other photographs of Darwin, however, this one continued to be reissued and reworked over a long period. It appeared as a ‘cabinet’ card of ‘The late Charles Darwin’, copyrighted by the art and print publisher William Luks. In 1889 it was reinterpreted in the form of a lithographic drawing by the Czech artist Jan Vilímek for the magazine Humoristické listy, as one of a series of portraits of international celebrities. It formed the frontispiece to the booklet on Darwin in the series of Little Journeys to Homes of Great Scientists (1905) by Elbert Hubbard – rendered so as to look like a spontaneous sketch, with Darwin’s earnest expression complementing the author’s emphasis on his moral integrity. At the time of the Darwin centenary celebrations in 1909, it was reproduced again in a commemorative issue of the American journal Popular Science Monthly; the editor, in a brief survey of ‘Portraits of Darwin’, suggested, ‘It gives perhaps a better impression of Darwin as he actually looked in his later years than any other portrait.’ 

  • physical location Cambridge University Library (copy also in the National Portrait Gallery, NPG x5939 and NPG Ax17583) 

  • accession or collection numbers LD.1.12- 

  • copyright holder Syndics of Cambridge University Library 

  • originator of image Lock and Whitfield, photographers 

  • date of creation 1877-8 

  • computer-readable date 1877-01-01 to 1878-12-31 

  • medium and material woodburytype photograph, mounted on the page in a decorative printed frame 

  • references and bibliography Men of Mark. A Gallery of Contemporary Portraits of Men Distinguished in the Senate, the Church, in Science, Literature and Art, the Army, Navy, Law, Medicine etc. Photographed from Life by Lock and Whitfield. With Brief Biographical Notices by Thompson Cooper, F.S.A. Third Series (London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle and Rivington, 1878), no. 36. Lithographic vignette by Jan Vilímek, signed with initials and dated ‘89’, in Humoristické listy, XXXI:46 (1889), front page. Elbert Hubbard, Little Journeys to Homes of Great Scientists, 16:6 (June 1905), issued by Roycrofters of New York, frontispiece. Popular Science Monthly, 74 (April 1909), frontispiece and pp. 334-5, 413. Anon. [Geoffrey Belknap], ‘Darwin’s Photographic Portraits’ at the Darwin Correspondence Project, accessed March 2020. J. van Wyhe, ‘Iconography’, pp. 144, 177-8. 


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