James Dewar lecturing on liquid hydrogen

This image depicts a formal lecture to Members of the Royal Institution by James Dewar. 

A painting depicting James Dewar lecturing on liquid hydrogen


The audience depicted in this image includes many famous people from science, industry and politics including Lord Rayleigh, Lord Kelvin and Arthur Balfour, the Prime Minister of the time. While supposedly depicting an actual event, the artist, Henry Jamyn Brooks, wanted to make sure that he did not leave anyone important out, whether or not they were really there or even alive at the time.

These lectures, known as the Friday Evening Discourses were a stage for scientists to show their latest research and were usually loaded with demonstrations. The apparatus would all be set up on the bench before the lecture and the lecturer would come to each experiment in turn. Huge sheets of calico with relevant diagrams helped the audience follow the thread of the lecture.

Dewar was famous for being the first person to liquefy hydrogen by cooling it to 252.87°C. It was a dangerous process: Robert Lennox, one of his assistants, was caught in an explosion and lost an eye. You can see him in the background, turned away from the viewer to hide the scars. Dewar also invented the vacuum (thermos) flask to minimise heat loss and so keep gas-liquid for as long as possible.

See our image key below to discover all the famous people in the audience of this painting.

List of people (to be used in conjunction with the image key)


1. Salamons, David

2: Galton, Francis

3. Mond, Robert

4. Bruce, John Mitchell

5. Horner, Maures

6. Church, Arthur

7. Messel, Rudolph

8. Gibbs, W. B.

10. Rigg, Arthur

11. Stirling, James

12. Wolfe-Barry, John

13. (in President's chair) Percy, Henry George, 7th Duke of Northumberland

14. Strutt, Evelyn

15. Thomson, Fanny

16. Thomson, William

17. Huggins, William

18. Lister, Joseph

19. Bramwell, Frederick Joseph

20. Balfour, Arthur James

21. Crookes, William

22. Browne, James Crichton-

23. Strutt, John William

24. Matthey, George

25. Mond, Ludwig



26. Lodge, Oliver

27. Cathcart, Alan

28. Broun-Morison, John Broun

29. Marconi, Guglielmo

30. Bell, Isaac Lowthian

31. Huggins, Margaret Lindsay

32. Pollock, Mrs Henry

33. Aird, John

33A. Divers, Edward

34. Boys, Charles Vernon

35. Dundas-Grant, James

36. Baker, Benjamin

37. Giffard, Hardinge Stanley

38. Darwin, George

39. Priestley, Eliza

40. Mond, Freda

41. Crookes, Ellen

42. Dewar, Helen Rose

43. Lubbock, John

44. Noble, Andrew

45. Farrer, William

46. Semon, Felix

47. Willoughby, George

48. Fox, Francis

49. Vezey, J. J.

50. Pollock, Edward


51. Pollock, Mrs. Edward

52. Webster, Richard Everard

53. Kempe, Alfred Bray

54. Kempe, Ida

55. Siemens, Alexander

56. Siemens, Frances

57. Blyth, James

58. Fry, Edward

59. Sanderson, Thomas Henry

60. Hood, Donald W. C.

61. Balfour-Browne, John Hutton

63. Dickson, Charles Scott

64. Lonides, Alexander Constantine

65. Lonides, Euterpe

66. Swan, Joseph Wilson

67 Swan, Hannah

68. McClean, Mrs.

69. McClean, Francis William

70. Goschen, Mrs.

71. Odling, William

72. Buzzard, Thomas

73. Binnie, Alexander Richardson

74. West, Margaret Nanny

75. West, Samuel


76. Magnus, Philip

77. Laking, Francis Henry

78. Parsons, Charles Algernon

79. Preece, William Henry

80. Beevor, Charles Edward

81. Beevor, Blanche

82. Beevor, S. F.

83. Dundas-Grant, Helen

84. Pidgeon, W. R.

85. Pidgeon, Mrs.

86. Clowes, F.

87. Macnaught, Mrs.

88. Mackenzie Davidson, James

89. Russell, William James

90. Spottiswoode, William Hugh

91. Palmer Thomas, Mrs.

92. Palmer Thomas, R.

93. Bidwell, Shelford

94. Frankland, Percy Faraday

95. Meadows White, Miss.

97. Everett, Joseph David

99. De la Rue, W. W.

100. Stoney, George Johnstone


101. Moulton, John Fletcher

102. Herbert, George

103. Meldola, Ralph

104. Abney, William

105. Dean, Rosser

106. Tyssen-Amherst, William Amherst

108. Cunynghame, Emily Harriette

109. Cunynghame, Henry Hardinge

110. Roberts, Owen

111. White, William

112. Pollock, Frederick

114. Campbell Swinton, Alan Archibald

115. Braine, Francis Woodhouse

116. Langdon-Davies, C.

117. Frost, William Adams

118. Wallace, Roger

121. Noble, Wilson

123. Western, Miss.

125. Parsons, Laurence


126. Lys Smith, F

127. Savage Landor, Arnold Henry

128. Baldwin, H.

129. Lawson, Mrs Frank

131. Chambers, George Frederick

132. Hawksley, Charles

134. Rücker, Arthur

135. Mackenzie, Alexander

139. Fowler, Richard

140. Heath, John William Edward

141. Lennox, Robert N.

142. Dewar, James