Picturing the immaterial in the Age of Industry: Mary Somerville and her artistic circles

A dramatic landscape painting of a castle beside a lake by Mary Somerville


Picturing the immaterial in the Age of Industry: Mary Somerville and her artistic circles

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 Wednesday 18 October 2023


  At the Weston Library

  Free event, booking required

Booking for this talk has now closed.

About the event

Mary Somerville (1780–1872) made significant contributions to mathematics, astronomy, geology and meteorology. Her extensive and popular writing sought to uncover and conceptualise intangible and imperceptible forces such as climate.

Besides her scientific pursuits, Somerville was also a skilled landscape artist. Sarah Gould will explore how Somerville introduced fresh visual codes for picturing these boundless forces. This was especially crucial during the Industrial Revolution, when artists grappled with representing the transformed atmosphere they breathed.

After her death, Mary Somerville continued to inspire generations as the namesake of Somerville College, Oxford.

Programmed in collaboration with the Oxford Long Nineteenth Century Seminar.


Image credit: Mary Somerville, 'Castle by a Lake' (date unknown), Somerville College, University of Oxford.


Sarah Gould is an Assistant Professor at Université Paris 1-Panthéon Sorbonne, where she focuses on the study of British art in both her research and teaching. Her academic interests lie primarily in the material and ecological meanings of art. She is also currently under contract with the French publishing house Cohen and Cohen to write a monograph on John Everett Millais.

 Booking information

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This lecture will be held in person in the Sir Victor Blank Lecture Theatre at the Weston Library.

Weston Library, Broad Street, Oxford, OX1 3BG

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 Wheelchair access

The Weston Library is wheelchair accessible.

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