Jonathan Jones*1 “Origin story: what does Darwin's taste in art tell us about the scientist?” https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/jul/01/darwin-charles-art-down-house-leonardo-da-vinci-renaissance

Leonardo da Vinci looked over Charles Darwin’s shoulder as he wrote On the Origin of Species. Darwin in turn saw him every day as he entered his study to work among his collections of bird bones, barnacles and notes from the global voyage on HMS Beagle that gave him an idea that would change everything.

Today, his portrait of Leonardo is easily missed in the shadows of the study, and yet it is a startling clue into the way he thought and to the influence of art on this most radical of scientists.

チャールズ・ダーウィン*2の邸宅だったDown House*3ダーウィン夫妻の寝室が一般に公開された*4

Like most of the rooms in Down House – especially those that overlook the gardens where he studied the struggle for existence among plants and birds – his bedroom is brightly sunlit, the very opposite of the cliche of dark and cluttered Victorian chambers. The art on the walls is not Victorian, either: Darwin collected prints of Renaissance art. His bedroom is hung with fine prints of such masterpieces as Raphael’s Parnassus and Madonna of the Goldfinch, Titian’s Assumption, and Sebastiano del Piombo’s The Raising of Lazarus.

So what does Darwin’s taste in art say about him? One thing it suggests is that he was not quite as modest as our image of the shy, bearded country gentleman pottering about in his greenhouses might have it. One of the Raphaels in Darwin’s bedroom is a supposed self-portrait, to go with the Leonardo da Vinci self-portrait in the study. Darwin, Moulden*5 thinks, “identified with people like Leonardo and Raphael” – in other words, he saw himself as a Renaissance man, and perhaps as a genius. Which is, of course, what he was.

It was an amazing intuition of Darwin’s to revere Leonardo da Vinci as a scientific hero alongside the other great scientists whose portraits hang in his study, such as Charles Lyell*6, the father of modern geology, and Darwin’s own grandfather Erasmus*7, whose poem The Botanic Garden*8 foresees evolution. Many of Darwin’s insights were already glimpsed by Leonardo in the early 1500s: he collected fossils and understood them to be the traces of ancient creatures, and described homo sapiens as a kind of ape. Yet these observations in his notebooks were not translated into English and published until the 1880s. So how did Darwin know Leonardo was a scientist as well as artist? He must have got it from Vasari’s biography, which tells of how Leonardo bought live birds from markets just so he could set them free.


It is easy to see how Darwin found Leonardo inspiring. Both are extraordinary observers of the natural world, thinkers who leapt ahead of their time. Yet why did he love other old masters such as Raphael and Sebastiano?

The scientist reveals their meaning for him in his memoir of his time at Cambridge, which Moulden has used as a source. After moving there from Edinburgh University, he threw himself into all kinds of pursuits, cultural as well as scientific. He got into music, collected beetles and started to visit the Fitzwilliam Museum*9, with its copious collection of European art. This was when, he writes, he got “a taste for pictures and good engravings … I certainly admired the best paintings, which I discussed with the old curator.”

Young Darwin also visited London’s new National Gallery, founded in 1824, when he was 15. Many of its pictures, he recollected in old age, “gave me much pleasure; that of Sebastiano del Piombo*10 exciting in me a sense of sublimity”.


Visitors to Down House may be struck by the Christianity of the art in Darwin’s bedroom: the man whose theory of evolution is the greatest blow ever struck against theistic religion enjoyed looking at some of western art’s supreme sacred images. Emma Darwin was a believer, and perhaps his prints of the Madonna reflect his recognition of her piety. Yet the crucial word in his praise of Sebastiano del Piombo is “sublimity”: what he saw in this sombre painting of a dead man being brought back to life was the sublime, a sense of awe and dread.
そういえば、『仮面ライダー×仮面ライダー ゴースト&ドライブ 超MOVIE大戦ジェネシス』では、ダ・ヴィンチミケランジェロラファエロも悪役として登場し、その「魂」も消滅してしまうのだった。

*1:See also http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20100606/1275839941 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20100702/1278043288 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20120122/1327199681 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20120625/1340552169 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20130710/1373467332 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20130710/1373467332 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20141026/1414337023 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20160324/1458832140 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20160416/1460824925 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20160511/1462894474

*2:See also http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20061109/1163086138 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20090203/1233688680 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20090827/1251358127 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20091120/1258741355 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20100819/1282231602 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20150220/1424454079 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20150309/1425874074 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20151118/1447865609 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20151216/1450238834

*3:http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/darwin/ See eg. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Down_House

*4:See Press Association “Bedroom where Charles Darwin died to be opened to the public” https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/jun/29/bedroom-where-charles-darwin-died-to-be-opened-to-the-public

*5:Sarah Moulden。Down Houseの学藝員。

*6:See eg. John van Wyhe “Charles Lyell (1797-1875) gentleman geologist” http://www.victorianweb.org/science/lyell.html “Uniformitarianism: Charles Lyell” http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/history_12 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Lyell https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%81%E3%83%A3%E3%83%BC%E3%83%AB%E3%82%BA%E3%83%BB%E3%83%A9%E3%82%A4%E3%82%A8%E3%83%AB また、ライエルとダーウィンの関係については、例えば内井惣七ダーウィンの思想』第1章「ビーグル号の航海」、第6章第1節「ライエル最後の砦」を参照のこと。

ダーウィンの思想―人間と動物のあいだ (岩波新書)

ダーウィンの思想―人間と動物のあいだ (岩波新書)

*7:See eg. “Erasmus Darwinhttp://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poets/detail/erasmus-darwin “Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802)” http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/history/Edarwin.html https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erasmus_Darwin https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%82%A8%E3%83%A9%E3%82%BA%E3%83%9E%E3%82%B9%E3%83%BB%E3%83%80%E3%83%BC%E3%82%A6%E3%82%A3%E3%83%B3



*10:See eg. “Sebastiano del Piombo” https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/artists/sebastiano-del-piombo Richard Dorment “Sebastiano Del Piombo: the spiritual meets the sensuous” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/culturereviews/3672232/Sebastiano-Del-Piombo-the-spiritual-meets-the-sensuous.html https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sebastiano_del_Piombo https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%82%BB%E3%83%90%E3%82%B9%E3%83%86%E3%82%A3%E3%82%A2%E3%83%BC%E3%83%8E%E3%83%BB%E3%83%87%E3%83%AB%E3%83%BB%E3%83%94%E3%82%AA%E3%83%B3%E3%83%9C