Sir James Edward Smith

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Portrait of: Sir James Edward Smith
Style: Stipple and line engraving
Dimensions: 22 x 35. 7 cm

Sir James Edward Smith (1759-1828) was a botanist born in Norwich. He studied medicine at Edinburgh University between 1781 and 1783 underDr John Hope, one of the earliest teachers of the Linnaean system. He then travelled to London with an introduction from Hope to Sir JosephBanks, who was president of the Royal Society at that time.

Upon Linnaeus’s death Smith bought his library, manuscripts, herbarium, and natural history collections. Smith proposed the ideato replace the natural history society of which he was a member, withone bearing the name of Linnaeus. Subsequently, the first meeting ofthe Linnaean Society was held in London in 1788 and Smith was electedas its President.

The image below Smith’s portrait refers to an invented storyregarding the transportation of the Linnaean collections to Britain. Upon hearing of the collection’s dispatch from Sweden, King GustavIII of Sweden was reported to have sent a vessel to intercept the shipthat carried the documents, although his attempts were unsuccessful.

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