The Royal Society Picture Library is an online database of digital images of paintings, drawings and prints held in our collections. It has been created to inspire the exploration of science through its visual history.
Browse and search rare, intriguing, beautiful and often surprising pictures selected from the archives of the Royal Society, the world’s oldest scientific academy.
The Royal Society’s portraits are of some of the most eminent scientists, past and present, including Isaac Newton, Christopher Wren and Charles Darwin. This varied collection includes original oils, works on paper, miniatures, photographs and engravings.
Drawings, sketches and paintings from the Royal Society’s archive collections, including botanical studies, microscopical observations, anatomical drawings, engineering plans, travel documentary photography.
Images of rare published plates from the16th to 19th century, hand-picked from our extensive library of printed books and journals.
The website is available for all to browse and search using the homepage galleries or advanced search tools.
We licence images on a rights-managed basis to professional image buyers for a wide range of editorial and creative uses.
Academic study and teaching
Arrangements can be made for free access to images for classroom teaching resources, private study and inclusion in unpublished student theses and dissertations.
We regularly add fresh images to the website but if you can’t find what you are looking then contact us and we will be happy to discuss your project and conduct free searches of the extensive off-line material for you.
Bespoke photography and scanning can be arranged for any material from our collections which is not yet digitised.
Anne-Katrin Purkiss (1959-), Photographer
Anne Purkiss was born in Chemnitz, Germany and graduated from Leipzig University in 1983 with a degree in photography and journalism. She has worked as a freelance photographer since 1988. Her work has been exhibited in England, Germany and Italy, and her photographs are held in a number of collections including the archive of the Royal Society, the Royal Academy library and the National Portrait Gallery. Anne began photographing eminent scientists more than twenty five years ago which, in 2010, culminated in the exhibition ‘Scientists: Portraits of Fellows of the Royal Society’.
Note on copyright
We make every reasonable effort to locate, contact and acknowledge copyright owners and wish to be informed by any copyright owners who are not properly identified and acknowledged on this website so that we may make any necessary corrections.
Thanks and acknowledgements
This project has been generously supported by the De Laszlo Foundation, to which the Royal Society’s thanks are due, and to Damon de Laszlo for his informed interest and help.