Journal article published by Perspectives on Science, The MIT Press, Volume 27, Issue 3, May – June 2019, p.435 – 484
Author: Katherine M Reinhart, Research Associate, Making Visible: The visual and graphic practices of the early Royal Society (2015 – 2019)
Richard Waller, Fellow and Secretary of the Royal Society, is probably best remembered for editing Robert Hooke’s posthumously published works. Yet, Waller also created numerous drawings, paintings, and engravings for his own work and the Society’s publications. From precisely observed grasses to allegorical frontispieces, Waller’s images not only contained a diverse range of content, they are some of the most beautiful, colourful, and striking from the Society’s early years. This article argues that Waller played a distinctly important role in shaping the visual program of the Royal Society by virtue of his multiple functions as reliable administrator and translator, competent natural philosopher, and skilled image-maker. It analyzes Waller’s visual works in the context of his graphic training—in part influenced by his mother Mary More—and situates them within the context of English image-making traditions and Waller’s own natural philosophical interests. Examined as a functional whole, Waller’s career as a Fellow of the Royal Society emerges as an important case study in the fusion of visual and scientific practices in early-modern England.