William Harvey, after Bemmel, from Thomas Birch's The Heads of Illustrious Persons of Great Britain
37.3 cm x 23.6 cm (14 11/16 in. x 9 5/16 in.)
(Dordrecht, 1698 - 1780, Amsterdam)
Medium and Support:
Engraving and etching
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Karen G. and Dr. Elgin W. Ware, Jr. Collection, 2008
This portrait, based on a painting by a member of the Bemmel family of Nuremberg, shows the English physician William Harvey (1578–1657), the first person to accurately describe the appearance and function of the human circulatory system. The cartouche and the attributes in the foreground—texts, the caduces, and a plate with a diagram of the circulatory system—are the invention of the French illustrator Hubert-François-Bourguignon Gravelot. Birch’s Illustrious Persons is one of the best known publications of the period in Britain. Gravelot’s designs mark the arrival of rococo forms in British printmaking.