Sir William Henry Perkin and group, British Asociation meeting, York, 1906.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A group portrait from a collection of 19 photographs relating to Perkin (1838-1907), his relations, and the synthetic dyestuffs industry. Perkin is second on the left at the front and his son, also called William Henry Perkin, is behind him in the middle of the second row. William Ramsay (1852-1916), Scottish chemist, shown here at the far right of the second row, discovered the inert gases of the atmosphere. 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.