Archibald McFarlane Shannan

Sir William Thomson, Baron Kelvin, 1824 - 1907. Scientist (Dated 1896)

About this artwork

Thomson was born in Belfast but moved to Glasgow when he was nine. As a student at the universities of Glasgow, Cambridge and Paris, he made his mark in mathematical physics. At twenty-two he was appointed Professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of Glasgow where he set up the first university physics laboratory in Britain. Throughout his life he worked on thermodynamics – the science of energy and its conservation. His work establishing the value of absolute zero led to the scientific temperature scale being named the ‘Kelvin scale’ in his honour. Ever keen to apply his research to practical uses, Thomson supervised the laying of the Atlantic telegraph cable on the sea bed from 1857-66. For a number of decades he was recognised as the pre-eminent figure in the science world.

Archibald McFarlane Shannan

Archibald McFarlane Shannan

Born in Glasgow, Shannan began his career as an apprentice stonemason to his father. This led to him travelling to the Cameroons, West Africa, to help supervise the construction of sanatoria and then on to the USA, where he oversaw the construction of state buildings in Texas. Back in the UK, Shannan attended the Royal College of Art in London, before studying painting, sculpture and anatomy at the National Art Training School in Paris for around eight years. In 1892 he returned to Glasgow and began his career as a sculptor. He produced many important sculptures in marble and bronze alongside the stone statue of the poet, John Barbour, who features on the south-east tower of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.