Lyon Playfair, Baron St Andrews, Scottish chemist and politician, 1875.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Chromolithograph by Vincent Brooks Day & Son of a caricature by Carlo Pellegrini, better known as Ape, from 'Vanity Fair' magazine. Playfair (1818-1898) studied medicine at Glasgow and Edinburgh and chemistry at University College, London, completing his doctorate under Liebig (1803-1873) at Giesen, Germany. He rose from being a chemist in the Geological Survey in 1846, to becoming Secretary for Science and Art in 1855 and President of the Chemical Society in 1857. He discovered the nitroprusides clas of salts, and took part in organising the Great Exhibition of 1851. He was Profesor of Chemistry at Edinburgh University from 1858-1896, and ended his career as Chairman and Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons. He was created Baron Playfair of St Andrews in 1892.