Thursday, January 22, 2015

Joseph Priestley, the Discoverer of Oxygen

Joseph Priestley, the Discoverer of Oxygen, 1912

Ernest Board, British (1877 - 1934)
Wellcome Library (Wellcome Trust) - London 
Painting - oil on canvas
Height: 61.5 cm (24.21 in.), Width: 91 cm (35.83 in.) 
I just found this painting by Ernest Board of Joseph Priestley. I had not run across it before and I wanted to share it with my readers. It is relatively modern painting of him. Ernest Board was a distinuished British painter of historical subjects and portraits; mural decorator. Born at Worcester, 1877 and was educated in Bristol. Studied art at the Royal College of Art, at the Royal Academy Schools, and later in the studio of Edwin Austin Abbey. Exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1902.  Died on 26th October 1934 aged 57.  Board was a member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters (R.O.I.) and the Royal West of England Academy (R.W.A.).

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Thomas Holloway's Engraving of Joseph Priestley after William Artaud, 1795

Image provided with permission by Glenn Holgersen
This copper plate engraving was accomplished and published by Thomas Holloway in 1795 based upon a painting by William Artaud of 1794.  There are originals of this engraving at the National Portrait Gallery in London and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. D.C.

Thomas Holloway (1748-1827) was a noted British engraver and portrait painter, not to be confused with Thomas Halliday (1771-1844) the British engraver who executed the death medal of Joseph Priestley in 1804, which is also in the National Portrait Gallery.  I have a post on the Thomas Halliday Medal elsewhere on this blog. Holloway studied engraving at the Royal Academy starting in 1773.  Initially, Holloway's main direction was line engraving.  His earliest published plates were small portraits for magazines, chiefly of nonconformist ministers, of which Priestley was a noted one, especially after his admission as a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Friday, January 2, 2015

A New Twist on Touchstones of Time

My original post on Touchstones of Time back in February, 2014 seems to have made a very positive impression on quite a few people. Thanks for all the many comments both public and private that I have received.  I had occasion to be thinking about the royal family again and had some interesting factoids that I would like to share with you.

For the purposes of this quick sketch I will be referring to Queen Elizabeth II as Liz and to Queen Victoria as Vicky and Prince William as Willy.  Of course, Vicky is the great great grandmother of Liz, or, to put it in terms of the Touchstones post Vicky's grandson was George V, and George's granddaughter was Liz and Liz's grandson is Willy, and Willy's grandchild doesn't exist yet.  But, Willy already has a child, another George again.

Here are some vital statistics, assuming that Liz makes it to 9/11/2015 alive:

At that time (9/11/2015) Liz would be the longest serving Monarch in the history of the British Empire.  There is a pretty good chance that she will make it to more than 63 and 1/2 years on the throne.  Liz is already considerably older than Vicky was at her death (89+ vs. 81+ years).  One reason that Vicky was on the throne for so long was that she was only just over 18 when she ascended, versus Liz's almost 26 years of age.

One interesting point is that Liz was born only a little over 25 years after Vicky died. 
Will the time come when I have to change the Touchstones connections (holding hands) from grandparent to great grandparent, and from grandchild to great grandchild?  This would make the span in years even greater.

There are a number of factors that would influence the answering of that question.  First, the average age of mortality is increasing, which makes having great grandchildren (while you are still alive) more possible.  However, since the average age of first marriage is also increasing, this makes having great grandchildren (again, while you are still alive) more difficult.  What is the compound effect of these two trends?  Since the age of mortality and age at marriage are averages, there will be some people, no doubt, who get married young and live longer, making the likelihood of having generations of great grandchildren more likely than ever before. However, given the averages, the number of such families with such luck will be limited.  Let's look at the numbers.

Life Expectancy

In the developed world the average life expectancy has increased from about 66 years before 1900 to about 78 years in 2015, an increase of about 12 years in about 125 years, or about 1 year increase in life expectancy for every decade.  In fact, if we look to the projected life expectancy for 2050 which is about 82 years, we will increase by 4 more years in the next 35 years. Basically on the same trend.

Age of First Marriage

Average age of first marriage seems to have bottomed out around 1960 and has steadily increased since then.  In 1960, males were about 23 years of age and females were just over 20 years of age.
In 2010 the equivalent numbers were 28 and 26.  For one thing, the gap in age between males and females is diminishing.  In the last 50 years the average age has increased (male and female combined) from 21.5 to 27, or an increase of about 5.5 years.  That is just over one additional year per decade.

So, we now have a better handle on the demographics. Both life expectancy and the age of first marriage are increasing at the rate of about one year per decade.

An average marriage today at age 27 means that the couple will live until age 84 (52 more years).  Their offspring will be married at age 29 (when the couple is aged 56 with the parent's average life expectancy of another 28 years).  Those offspring when married will have offspring at about age 32, which is after the grandparents have already died).

But, if someone were to buck the trend and marry, say, at age 18, with children to follow almost immediately, and those children to marry young (age 18), and so on, then there would be a strong likelihood that more parents and great grandchildren would hold hands due to the longer life expectancy.

So, while, Liz has, no doubt held hands with her great grandchild, George, she will most likely never hold hands with her great great grandchild, whomever that might be.  While Vicky missed the opportunity to do so with Liz by some 25 years, I doubt that there will be a 25 year gap from Liz's death to George's offspring's birth.

October 18, 2015
It is a fact now that Liz is the longest serving monarch in the history of the British Empire.
I suppose the big question now is when the new monarch will ascend to the throne.  Liz will be 90 years old on April 21, 2016 and ascended to the throne on Feb. 6, 1952.  The next milestone for Liz will be her 64th anniversary of ascendency in February. Morbidity tables would suggest that Liz still has some time to tick yet.

April 21, 2016
The day has arrived. Liz is now 90 years of age. She ascended to the throne on Feb. 6, 1953. This means she has been the reigning monarch for over 63 years.  She has eight grandchildren and five great grandchildren at this time.

last modified 4/21/16