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Photo of the Week: Ada Lovelace

Kanta Dihal

Portrait of Ada Lovelace

From the private collection of GC Bond.

Yesterday, Tuesday 13 October 2015, marked the annual celebration of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics known as Ada Lovelace Day. This date, incidentally, is arbitrarily chosen and not related to Lovelace herself: Ada Lovelace Day is celebrated on the second Tuesday of October for reasons of convenience. However, the attentive reader may have heard more about Ada Lovelace than usual this year: 2015 marks the bicentennary of the birth of this mathematician and computer pioneer.

Most people who are familiar with Ada Lovelace are likely to have seen the iconic portrait of her by Alfred Edward Chalon. However, following Chalon’s characteristic portraiture, this painting is highly stylized. It is perhaps surprising to many that several daguerrotypes have been taken of Lovelace, who died in 1852. In 1841, French daguerrotypist Antoine Claudet set up a studio in London, which soon became very fashionable, and he created this portrait soon after his arrival.This daguerrotype, then, is not only interesting for showing us the real features of Ada Lovelace, but also for being a valuable historic artefact from the early days of photography.

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