Sir William Henry Perkin, English chemist, late 19th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Photograph from a collection of 19 photographs relating to Perkin (1838-1907), his relations, and the synthetic dyestuffs industry. The mauve shawl, exhibited at the International Exhibition of 1862, is draped around portraits of six members of the Perkin family, 'Members of the Old Firm of Perkin & Sons'. This was an exhibit at the Jubilee party held at Perkin's home in Sudbury, Middlesex, on 27 July 1906. In 1856, whilst attempting to synthesise quinine for the treatment of malaria, Perkin managed to extract a brilliant purple dye, subsequently named mauveine. His manufacture of this and other aniline dyes was a great commercial succes and he went on to create the modern synthetic dyestuffs industry and introduce a new range of colours into human life.