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Men of the Day No.19 "A great Med'cine-Man among the inquiring Redskins" Thomas Henry Huxley (Image plate from Vanity Fair)
, 1871

by Carlo Pellegrini

chromolithograph (sheet: 35.5 cm x 22.0 cm)

Thomas Henry Huxley (1825–1895) travelled to Australia as a member of the expedition conducted by Owen Stanley on HMS Rattlesnake between 1846 and 1850. Huxley became interested in science in his teens and in the 1830s undertook a medical apprenticeship, studying anatomy, surgery and botany at Sydenham College from 1841. He then won a scholarship to the Charing Cross Hospital; in 1845 was awarded a gold medal for anatomy and physiology, but, his scholarship now expired, was unable to complete his degree. He joined the navy in 1846 and later that year he was appointed assistant surgeon and naturalist to the Rattlesnake voyage, which was tasked with surveying a safe route through the Great Barrier Reef. The expedition took him to Sydney, Port Phillip, Van Diemen’s Land, the Darling Downs, Brisbane, Cape York, Port Essington and New Guinea, stimulating Huxley’s interest in anthropology and his research into hydrozoa, molluscs, sea urchins and sea butterflies. Elected a fellow of the Royal Society at age 26, Huxley subsequently held professorships at institutions including the Royal School of Mines and the Royal College of Surgeons. He was one of Charles Darwin’s staunchest supporters during the furore that followed the publication of On the Origin of Species in 1859 and wrote a number of papers supporting Darwin’s theories. His numerous awards included the Wollaston Medal of the Geological Society (1876); the Linnean Medal (1890); and the Copley Medal (1888), the Royal Society’s highest honour.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2015
Accession number: 2015.14