One of the Most Notable Images of Charles Lyell. An Example Hung in Charles Darwin's Study, Down House.
Rare separately published portrait of the Scottish geologist Charles Lyell, taken from a daguerreotype by J.E. Mayall, lithographed by Albert Newsam, and published by P.S. Duval in Philadelphia. The image shows one of the most important figures in the history of 19th-century scientific thought who is best known for mentoring the young Charles Darwin and helping Darwin publish his papers on natural selection.
The lithograph was made from a daguerreotype of Lyell taken during the early 1840s when he traveled extensively through North America. During the period 1841 to 1853, he visited America four times where he gave a series of lectures that were very well received. In addition, he made a number of important scientific discoveries throughout the United States. Most notably, perhaps, he has been called the first to explain how Niagara Falls formed through differential water-driven erosion.
The daguerreotype was taken in the studio of J.E. Mayall, in Philadelphia. The view was then lithographed by P.S. Duval and published by Mayall. Mayall was most famous for his carte-de-visite photographic portraits and for his work with artist James Turner.
Charles Lyell: The Father of Modern Geology
Lyell was one of the leading scientists of the 19th century, working at a time when geology and natural history engrossed the fascination of Europeans and Americans. The foremost of the Victorian-period scientists, who went into the field or lab well-dressed and often with a retinue, Lyell made important progress in developing our understanding of the formation of the natural world.
Lyell's most important contribution was perhaps the idea of "uniformitarianism," the idea that the same processes that are active today were active throughout the geological record. He furthered the ideas first proposed by James Hutton and showed that, in order to create the features seen in rocks today, the earth needed to be at least hundreds of millions of years old.
Lyell's magnum opus, published in twelve separate editions, was his Principles of Geology. This work introduced many scientific concepts, including the Anthropocene (which he termed the Recent) and the idea of climate change over geological time periods. His work was one of the defining influences on the young Charles Darwin, which he applied during his voyages on the Beagle.
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Charles Lyell’s debt to North America: his lectures and travels from 1841 to 1853 (Dott, 1998)