Scientific Researches! - New Discoveries in Pneumaticks! - or, an Experimental Lecture on the Powers of Air

Made:
1802 in London
publisher:
Hannah Humphrey
artist:
James Gillray

Buy this image as a print 

License this image for commercial use at Science and Society Picture Library

Buy this image as a print 

License this image for commercial use at Science and Society Picture Library

Print. Scientific Researches! - New Discoveries in Pneumaticks! - or, an Experimental Lecture on the Powers of Air. /
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Print: Scientific Researches! - New Discoveries in Pneumaticks! - or, an Experimental Lecture on the Powers of Air. /
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, London

"Scientific Researches! - New Discoveries in Pneumaticks! - or, an Experimental Lecture on the Powers of Air". Coloured etching by James Gillray, published 23 May 1802 by Hannah Humphrey St James's Street, London.

James Gillray’s satirical print shows a public lecture at the Royal Institution. The audience includes recognisable politicians, diplomats and intellectual women (‘bluestockings’). They look amused or disgusted as Sir JC Hippisley is given nitrous oxide gas by the physician Thomas Garnett and his assistant Humphry Davy. A diary entry by Lady Elizabeth Holland relates an event very similar to what Gillray portrays.

Chemical apparatus is on the bench, and a globe and electrical machine are visible in a room behind, known as the Repository of models. Count Rumford (founder of the RI) is standing in the doorway. The audience includes, left to right, the German attaché Tholdal and his wife; artist Peter Denys and his wife, and former pupil, Lady Charlotte; the poet William Sotheby; well-known bluestocking Federica Augusta Locke; Sir Henry Englefield; Lord Pomfret; Lord Stanhope; Lord Gower and Isaac Disraeli.

Gillray makes the most of a fart joke to reference the ‘hot air’ that contemporaries criticised in both gas research and radical politics. This print is one of the public attacks that led to nitrous oxide research being abandoned because of its proponents’ supposedly dangerous political views.

On display

Science Museum: The Art of Innovation

If you are visiting to see this object, please contact us in advance to make sure that it will be on display.

Related people

Details

Category:
Art
Object Number:
1982-1517
type:
print, caricatures, prints, scientific experiments, scientific lectures
taxonomy:
  • visual and verbal communication
  • visual and verbal communication
credit:
Edmunds, A.

Cite this page

Rights

We encourage the use and reuse of our collection data.


Data in the title, made, maker and details fields are released under Creative Commons Zero


Descriptions and all other text content are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence

Using our data

Download

Download catalogue entry as json

Download manifest IIIF

Our records are constantly being enhanced and improved, but please note that we cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information shown on this website.