Mary and Neptune depicts a young Mary Sommerville searching the sky over Edinburgh.
Mary Somerville was born in Burntisland, Scotland in 1780 and lived and worked as a Science Writer in Scotland, England and Italy. Sommerville researched widely, but concentrated on maths and astronomy, becoming an influential member of the scientific community. The phrase “Scientist” was coined to describe Sommerville both in place of “man of science” and also in reference to her work as multidisciplinary. Mary and her contemporary, Caroline Herschel were the first female members of the Royal Astronomical Society. Somerville’s published works ranged from University text books to theoretical papers. In an edition of On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences (1842), Mary supported the theoretical existence of a planet near Uranus. This planet was discovered in 1846 and named Neptune.
4 years before her death, this internationally renowned Science Writer and polymath was nominated as the first person to sign a massive parliamentary petition to give women the vote, which was sadly unsuccessful.
When she died in 1872, Mary Somerville was hailed by The Morning Post as “The Queen of Nineteenth-Century Science”. Her influence in the proceeding generations of scientific communities can be felt across the world and in 2017 The Royal Bank of Scotland will celebrate her achievements on their £10 note.
Created by Niamh Purcell for the “Crag & Tale” exhibition, for which we encouraged illustrators to look at Edinburgh from a different perspective. Curated by Nicky Brooks at the Red Door Gallery you can read more about this exhibition here.
Paper size 30 x 30 cm
Print size 24 x 24 cm
Giclée Print on watercolour paper, signed by the artist.