People

Distilled #10: Fancy Portraits for Factory Workers

Depicting the everyman of the scientific enterprise.

November 26, 2019

Distilled #10: Fancy Portraits for Factory Workers

In the early 20th century the Rohm and Haas chemical plant in the Bridesburg neighborhood of Philadelphia commissioned a series of employee portraits from painter Gerrit Beneker. Known for his depictions of American industry, Beneker didn’t just paint scientists and executives. He also portayed the blue-collar workers on the factory floor, such as George Trapp, a 30-year veteran of the oil of vitriol (otherwise known as sulfuric acid) department. Such portraits reveal the many different sorts of people involved in the work of doing science.

Join Distillations podcast host Alexis Pedrick as Science History Institute staff members share their favorite objects from our museum, archival, and library collections.