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The image of Restoration science: the frontispiece of Sprat’s 'History of the Royal Society'


Event audio


13:00 - 14:00


The Royal Society, London, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG


Public history of science lecture by Professor Michael Hunter

Frontispiece of Thomas Sprat's 'History of the Royal Society'

Event details

Michael Hunter is Emeritus Professor of History at Birkbeck, University of London.

Wenceslaus Hollar’s print celebrating Charles II as founder of the Royal Society, based on a design by John Evelyn, has been much reproduced but little studied. In 1981, Michael Hunter showed that it was originally intended, not for Sprat’sHistory, but for an apologetic work by John Beale that proved abortive.

In this talk he will recapitulate those findings and will also examine the image in its own right, analysing its debt to earlier exemplars and considering the significance of the various components of the design. He will also investigate aspects of the print’s publishing history, and particularly the extent to which choice copies of it were produced, probably at the behest of Evelyn.

Attending this event

This event is free to attend and open to all. No tickets are required. Doors open at 12.30pm and seats will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

We have a limited number of spaces for wheelchair users and ten bookable seats for people with impaired mobility who are unable to queue. To book in advance, please contact the events team. 

Recorded audio will be available on this page a few days after the event.

The image of Restoration science: the frontispiece of Sprat’s 'History of the Royal Society' The Royal Society, London 6-9 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG UK