Portrait of Sir William Henry Perkin, 1838-1907

Portrait of Sir William Henry Perkin, 1838-1907

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This image is part of the feature Nature's Paintbox

Credit: SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Sir William Henry Perkin. Portrait of Sir William Henry Perkin (1838-1907), the English chemist & founder of the organic chemical industry. In 1856, while still a student at the Royal College of Chemistry, he accidentally produced mauveine, the first synthetic dyestuff. Aided by his father, he set up a factory to manufacture the new dye and, later, other dyes based on coal tar products. He continued his research, solving some important problems of organic acids and synthesizing the amino acid glycine. At 36 he gave up dyemaking to concentrate on his research. He developed a general synthesis of aromatic acids (the Perkin reaction) and studied magnetic rotatory power.

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Keywords: chemist, discoverer of, first, mauve, perkin, portraits, sir william henry, surname p, synthetic dye, w.h.

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