"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Monday, June 27, 2016

James Smithson

Per Orbem

- James Smithson -FRS-
Founder of the Smithsonian
Institution - Washington
Erected by the Regents
of the Institution 1896

This 1900 Carrara marble plaque replaced the 1896 original at Smithson's grave in Genoa, Italy, designed by William Ordway Partridge. It was moved to the crypt in the Smithsonian castle in 1904 along with Smithson's sarcophagus and his remains.
"James Smithson, MA, FRS (c. 1765 – 27 June 1829) was an English chemist and mineralogist. He was the founding donor of the Smithsonian Institution. Smithson was the illegitimate child of the 1st Duke of Northumberland, and was born secretly in Paris, on an unknown date, possibly in the Pentemont Abbey, as Jacques-Louis Macie (later altered to James Louis). Eventually, he was naturalized in England and attended university, studying chemistry and mineralogy at Pembroke College, Oxford. At the age of twenty-two, he changed his surname from Macie to Smithson, his father's pre-marriage surname. Smithson traveled extensively throughout Europe publishing papers about his findings. Considered a talented amateur in his field, Smithson maintained an inheritance he acquired from his mother and other relatives.

Smithson was never married and had no children; therefore, when he wrote his will, he left his estate to his nephew, or his nephew's family if his nephew died before Smithson. If his nephew was to die without heirs, however, Smithson's will stipulated that his estate be donated to the founding of an educational institution in Washington, D.C., in the United States. In 1835, his nephew died and so could not claim to be the recipient of his estate; therefore, Smithson became the founding donor of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. despite having never visited the United States." -- Wikipedia

The inscription on the front of Smithson's tomb gets his age wrong he was 64 at time of his death.

to the
James Smithson Esq.
 Fellow of the Royal Society,
 who died at Genoa
 the 26th June 1829
aged 75 years.

This engraving (From Rhees, 1880) of the Smithson's Tomb in Genoa, shows the rear inscription.

This monument is erected
and the ground on which
it stands is purchased in perpetuity
by Henry Hungerford. Esq.,
the deceased’s nephew,
in token of gratitude
to a generous benefactor
and as a tribute to departed worth.

This plaque attached below the sarcophagus marks Smithson's re-interment in Washington.

 James Smithson 
Founder of the Smithsonian Institution
Who died at Genoa Italy June 26 1829
These remains were brought to 
The United States in 1904 for Reinterment
In the care of the Institution he founded.

"Large central medallions, comprised of a moth inside a laurel wreath, decorated with laurel branches and festooned with ribbon, are carved into the front and back of the marker. Moths, having 'died' as caterpillars, represent new life after death. In classical times, the long-lasting laurel leaf fashioned into a wreath signified achievement, victory, and eternity while laurel branches with foliage generally represent the Tree of Life." -- Smithsonian

No comments:

Post a Comment