Count von Rumford, American, founder of the Royal Institution, c 1780s.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Portrait of Count von Rumford, Sir Benjamin Thompson (1753- 1814). This colourful character worked as a secret agent for the British army and was employed in England at the colonial office before going on to do pioneering work in the relationships between work and heat. Rumford was made a Count and knighted in 1784. In 1800 he founded the Royal Institution.