Professor Joseph Black, 1728 - 1799. Chemist (1787)
About this artwork
Son of a Scottish wine merchant, Black was born in Bordeaux and educated in Belfast and Glasgow. Black was a brilliant chemist, he was the first to identify carbon dioxide within air and developed the theories of latent and specific heat, which paved the way for James Watt's improvements to the steam engine. He was a great teacher and active member of intellectual society in Edinburgh; his friends included the philosopher, David Hume and the economist, Adam Smith.
- title: Professor Joseph Black, 1728 - 1799. Chemist
- accession number: PGL 259
- artist: David MartinScottish (1737 - 1797)
- depicted: Professor Joseph Black
- gallery: Scottish National Portrait Gallery(On Display)
- object type: Painting
- subject: Medicine and science
- materials: Oil on canvas
- date created: 1787
- measurements: 126.80 x 102.00 cm (framed: 147.80 x 123.60 x 8.00 cm)
- credit line: On loan from the Royal Medical Society, Edinburgh
David Martin was born in Anstruther, Fife, the son of a schoolmaster. He trained under Allan Ramsay, working in his fellow Scot's London studio from about 1752. In 1755 he joined Ramsay in Rome and probably returned with him to London in 1757, working as his chief assistant, producing copies of state portraits. He settled in Edinburgh in the mid 1780s where his successful portrait practice functioned as a key link between his master, Ramsay, and Henry Raeburn. One of Martin's earliest independent works is a portrait of Benjamin Franklin (1767), which now hangs in The White House, Washington.