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Image of the Week: Grey Drone Fly

8 Aug, 2014

L0034687 Robert Hooke, Micrographia, head and eyes of drone-fly

This week’s image depicts the head of a drone fly. It is an engraving featured in Robert Hooke’s 1665 publication Micrographia: Or Some Physiological Descriptions of Minute Bodies Made by Magnifying Glasses With Observations and Inquiries Thereupon (catchy title).

Although Hooke is more often associated with his contributions to science, the image here demonstrates his remarkable talent as a draftsman.

Hooke’s small lettered annotations remind you that this is, in fact, an anatomical diagram, though this hardly detracts from the intricate detailing in the eyes and surrounding hairs.

Micrographia is an extraordinary book and the first of its kind. It gave the public their first look at the weird and wonderful things that exist beyond the naked eye. After finding a copy in a local bookshop and staying up until 2am reading it, Samuel Pepys declared in his diary that it was ‘the most ingenious book I read in my life’.

Hooke’s own personal story is a fascinating as his illustrations. As a Fellow of the Royal Society, Hooke and Isaac Newton were absorbed in a bitter rivalry. Rumours say that Newton waited until Hooke had died before becoming more active in the Society. However, it may only be coincidence that Newton was elected President in 1703, the year of Hooke’s death.

No contemporary portraits of Hooke remain, any painted after his death have relied on written physical descriptions. Some say that once he had passed away, Newton destroyed all paintings of Hooke, but this is a mystery. Today, he remains a relatively enigmatic figure in history.

Image credit: Wellcome Images

Wellcome Images is one of the world’s richest and most unusual collections, with themes ranging from medical and social history to contemporary healthcare and biomedical science. Over 100,000 high resolution images from our historical collections are now free to use under the Creative Commons-Attribution only (CC-BY) licence.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 10 Aug, 2014 9:29 am

    A sensible analysis of the Newton and Hooke’s Portrait story

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