MAGUIRE, Thomas Herbert
[Ipswich: George Ransome, c. 1850]. Tinted lithograph in octagonal format, signature as title: "Robert Brown"; artist's printed signature, "T. H. Maguire 1850" in image l.r. Blind-stamp of Ipswich Museum. Image size (including text): 13 x 9 3/8 inches. Sheet size: 23 1/2 x 17 1/4 inches.
A fine portrait of the famous Scottish botanist, who first observed "Brownian" motion
Robert Brown (1773-1858) was born in Montrose, Scotland. He attended University of Edinburgh for several years, studying medicine, but left before graduating to pursue his interest in botany. Before leaving, he attended lectures by John Walker, the great Scottish polymath and naturalist, and made botanical expeditions in the Highlands with David Don. He joined the army in 1794 and was surgeon's mate to a regiment stationed in Ireland. While in Ireland, he continued his botanical studies. Plant collectors at this time formed a network through correspondence and journals, and Brown's research and ambition eventually led to his being selected Naturalist for Flinder's 1801 expedition to what came to be called Australia. When Brown returned to Britain in 1805, he had assembled a collection of more than 3,500 plants, some 2,000 of which were previously unknown. After cataloging and distributing his botanical discoveries, Brown became Sir Joseph Banks' librarian, and when Banks died in 1820, he inherited the library and herbarium. The library went to the British Museum in 1827 with Brown as its Keeper.
Brown is credited with having expanded the study of plants in several important directions, mostly through the use of microscopes. He was one of the first to discover the existence of the cell nucleus and cytoplasmic streaming (the movement of organelles through the cytoplasm). He is best known today for his observations of "Brownian Motion", which he saw in grains of pollen suspended in water. In 1905, Einstein determined that the pollen was moved by the constant activity of the water molecules, which caused random motion.
Thomas Herbert Maguire (1821-1895) was a British artist, who studied lithography with Richard James Lane. He is best known for the portraits of scientists, primarily naturalists, for which he was commissioned by George Ransome, F. L. S. in connection with the founding of the Ipswich Museum. Ransome gave the portraits as gifts to subscribing members and gave the entire portfolio, which ultimately ran to 60 portraits, to especially important figures, most notably Prince Albert when he visited the museum in 1851.
Maguire brought to portrait making an unusual capacity to capture a person's type and character. His portraits did not try glorify their subject but rather showed their individuality. The subject's renown depended on their accomplishments, which would have been well-known to the observers.