London Blog

Profile: Isaac Newton Statue

Sir Isaac Newton died in London 280 years ago this week. A distinctive statue stands outside the British Library.

Matt Brown

What’s this? A naked Newton interrogates the geometries of the universe with his dividers. The 4 m tall bronze was commissioned for the new British Library in 1995, and stands in the piazza near Euston Road. The sculpture is based on a 1795 engraving by William Blake (1757–1827).

Isaac Newton: Sculpture by Paolozzi, etching by Blake.

Who created it? Sir Eduardo Paolozzi (1924–2005), a Scottish artist born of Italian parents. Paolozzi contributed other images of science to the capital. Most notably, the colourful mosaics in Tottenham Court Road underground station, which depict the Hubble Space Telescope and other machinery.

London connections? Sir Isaac Newton came to London in 1696 to oversee the Royal Mint. He served as President of the Royal Society (1703–1727) and as Member of Parliament for the University of Cambridge (1689, 1701–1702). With his great theoretical works behind him, Newton concentrated on scientific discourse and his official duties. He died in Kensington in March 1727. Further commemorations include a monument in Westminster Abbey and a blue plaque on his Jermyn Street home.

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