Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Origin Story: What Does Darwin's Taste in Art Reveal About the Scientist?

By Jonathan Jones
New perspective on Darwin … The Raising of Lazarus by Sebastiano del Piombo (1517-19). Photograph: National Gallery
UNITED KINGDOM---Charles Darwin’s appetite for art is one of the least known things about the man who discovered evolution. The scientist reveals their meaning for him in his memoir of his time at Cambridge.... After moving there from Edinburgh University, he threw himself into all kinds of pursuits, cultural as well as scientific. He got into music, collected beetles and started to visit the Fitzwilliam Museum, with its copious collection of European art. This was when, he writes, he got “a taste for pictures and good engravings ….” Visitors to Down House may be struck by the Christianity of the art in Darwin’s bedroom: the man whose theory of evolution is the greatest blow ever struck against theistic religion enjoyed looking at some of western art’s supreme sacred images. [link]