Pierre Jean David d'Angers

Mary Fairfax, Mrs William Somerville, 1780 - 1872. Writer on science (About 1833)

About this artwork

Born in Jedburgh, the daughter of a naval officer, Mary Fairfax received the education then thought fitting for young ladies - very little, and a lot of needlework. She taught herself algebra in secret and became one of the period's leading mathematicians. She wrote several influential books on mathematics and astronomy. Somerville College, in Oxford, is named in her honour.This portrait was made during a visit to Paris in 1833. Although the medallion was very popular with the scientific community, some thought it too hard-edged and unfeminine.

Pierre Jean David d'Angers

Pierre Jean David d'Angers

The son of a wood carver from Angers, France, David went to Paris in 1808 to work in the studio of Philippe-Laurent Roland. After winning the 1811 Prix de Rome, he studied in Italy where he met the Neoclassical sculptor Canova. On his return to France, he worked on public and private commissions, executing statues of major political figures, tomb monuments, bust portraits, portrait medallions and bas-reliefs. Despite his strong grounding in Neoclassicism, his work heralds the arrival of the Romantic style in French sculpture. In gratitude for a scholarship from his native city when he was an impoverished student, the sculptor called himself 'David d'Angers'.