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William Ramsay (1852-1916) was a Scottish chemist who received a Nobel Prize in 1904 for having identified four inert gases: Helium, Argon, Krypton, and Xenon. This colored print shows him giving a lecture, pointing to the positions of these gases on the periodic table. It was drawn by Leslie Matthew Ward (1851-1922), a British artist who produced some 1325 cartoon portraits for Vanity Fair, a popular British magazine. Like many of Ward’s portraits, this one captured the personality of the subject and was signed “Spy.” It was published on Dec. 2, 1908.
The text above the image reads “VANITY FAIR Supplement.” The text below reads “Hentschel-Colourtype, London” and “(Sir William Ramsay).” The accompanying text begins by saying that Ramsay was “an apostle of the great modern Religion of the Established Fact,” and it ends by saying that “He has hordes of friends, but his real loves are Fountain pens and cigarettes.”
The Hentschel colourtype process was developed by Carl Hentschel (1864-1930), a Pole who immigrated to England.
Ref: Morris W. Travers, A Life of Sir William Ramsay, K.C.B., F.R.S. (London, 1956).
“Personalities in Process: Carl Hentschel,” The Process Engravers Monthly 19 (Feb. 1912): 33-35.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
place made
United Kingdom: England, London
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 14 1/2 in x 8 1/2 in; 36.83 cm x 21.59 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
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Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Science & Mathematics
Prints from the Physical Sciences Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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