Is there any collection or list of artworks both literary and visual which make homage to Scientists(Mathematicians and Physicists specifically)? I am not necessarily thinking of portraits, instead paintings made in their honor or odes written in their memory.

Some examples of what I am speaking of:

  • Anything from here
  • Newton, William Blake
  • The Refusal of Archimedes, Sebastiano Ricci
  • Pythagoras, Girolamo Mazzola Bedoli

I would appreciate any suggestions of art, or resources that could help me in this regard.

  • $\begingroup$ I've always admired Joseph Wright's painting An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump. though it does not reference a particular scientist of mathematician. $\endgroup$
    – nwr
    Commented Jun 11, 2021 at 4:33
  • $\begingroup$ Another of Wright's paintings depicts an orrery: A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery. $\endgroup$
    – nwr
    Commented Jun 11, 2021 at 4:59
  • $\begingroup$ See also mathoverflow.net/questions/101644/… $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 14, 2021 at 22:30
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Byron's Don Juan has 3 references to Newton. in Cantos 7 and 10. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 14, 2021 at 22:31
  • $\begingroup$ A painting showing a math teacher at work: ru.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/…. The main character, who is sitting, was once a professor at Moscow State University (at the time, the Imperial Moscow University). $\endgroup$
    – KCd
    Commented Jun 16, 2021 at 22:38

4 Answers 4


Though by no means exhaustive, there are a number of literary sources in the anthology Literature and Science in the Nineteenth Century edited by Laura Otis. The book contains the writings of novelists, poets and scientists.

The list of contents can be found on Google Books: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=b8YUDAAAQBAJ&lpg=PP1&ots=LsIxN-FwlH&dq=literature%20and%20science%20in%20the%20nineteenth%20century%20contents&lr&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false


"Math a mort" is a famous murder-mystery about the French Institute of Advance Studies (IHES) by Margot Bruyère where several permanent members mathematicians in IHES play important roles. The Web site above also lists other math mystery books. Truth, this is not poetry or "art". Of course, Prof. Moriarty was also a mathematician in Sherlock Holmes stories but he did not have a real life mathematician prototype.


I am not that good in remembering names. But I can remember looking in a book of art and being surprised to see a few paintings of a female painter that showed scientific diagrams and other means of scientific representations. It gave a strange feeling to see them taken out of their scientific context. They made it clear (at last to me) that science is just one culture amongst many. I think it is a pity that I don't remember her name. I can't find her on the internet.

There is a painting "De Lijkschouwer". It shows the disection of a dead body by physicians to know more about the inner workings of people.

Walking the streets of Amsterdam one day (near the Spiegelgracht, where a lot of antiquity shops and art galleries are situated) I saw a painting that attracted me. It showed, in a magical, almost surreallistically, and dramatically lighted scene, a huge telescope directed towards the heavens (which reminds right now of a book by a Dutch author: "The Discovery of Heaven", in which a physics professor discovers a negatively curved space in which heaven is situated). Around the telescope human activity can be seen. People are looking at observation results and one stares in awe at the sky. I don't remember who has painted it.

And of course there is a huge portrait gallery. The images of almost all famous scientists are put on linen. But I don't think you are interested in this.
Maybe one artist is worth mentioning. The Dutchman Escher made a lot of prints of geometric figures and transformations thereof. He combined geometry with life in appealing and aestethically pleasing pictures. I am not aware that he made paintings. He made pencil drawings and prints.

I have a small poetry bundle with poems glorifying science. It is written by a Dutch physicist and the poems try to glorify mainly by showing the stupidity of the non-scientific views. Not really my cup of tea. The language used is colorfull though and I think he could better have put it in another practice or context. I will look it up to give an example (though translating poetry is always difficult).


There are so many possible examples of artistic production's overlap with science that it's hard to know where to begin.

  • Martin Kemp, British art historian, for many years contributed a regular column to Nature magazine on artistic visualizations in science, e.g., Visualizations: The nature book of art and science is one source.

  • Clarke and Henderson's book From Energy to Information explicitly examines how 19th c scientific discoveries wrt energy, entropy and thermodynamics fed creativity in art and literature in the 20th c.

  • David Wooton's The Invention of Science: A new history of the scientific revolution reviews, in depth, the overlap between emerging conceptions of science and its analogues in the arts, with a particular focus on poets such as John Donne.

  • Karen Barad's Meeting the Universe Halfway contains an extended discussion of Michael Frayn's play Copenhagen about a meeting between Werner Heisenberg and Nils Bohr during WWII.


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