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Portraits

Pictures of famous people in history show us the faces of those who have shaped our past. Portraits and action scenes of these important people let us visualize key historical events and actors. Heads of state under many forms of government have included kings and queens, tsars, emperors, sultans, indigenous native chiefs, presidents, and prime ministers. To characterize these groups, some notable individuals are Henri de Navarre, or Henry IV, King of France; Queen Elizabeth I; Tsar Peter I; Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne, Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, Chief Massasoit, President Thomas Jefferson, and Prime Minister William Gladstone. Other important government leaders shown in historical pictures include legislators, Supreme Court Justices, and First Ladies.

Often as important as the political head of government, military leaders have been responsible for defending, defining, and expanding national borders. Army generals, naval commanders, insurgent leaders, war chiefs, and warriors who distinguished themselves in battle are among those from many historical times and cultures whose portraits are in demand. Some notable military individuals seen in historical images are Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Julius Caesar, Joan of Arc, George Washington, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Robert E. Lee. Sea captains who commanded historically important missions include Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan, Francis Drake, John Paul Jones, and Oliver Hazard Perry. Conquistadors and other expedition leaders extended horizons to new lands, for instance, Cortes, Pizarro, Samuel de Champlain, Henry Hudson, and Lewis and Clark led their parties into unmapped territory, facing hardship and, often, native attack.

Writers, philosophers, musicians and composers, and artists have shaped today's cultures. As shown in historical pictures, some of the most influential writers are the ancient Greek philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato, Renaissance artists and authors, Shakespeare and other playwrights, great poets, novelists, and other thinkers and essayists. Music portraits are highlighted by pictures of the life of Beethoven and other classical composers. Illustrations of mythical and legendary characters show other aspects of our cultural heritage, including characters from fiction, folk heroes like Johnny Appleseed, children's storybook characters such as Puss in Boots, as well as monsters and magical animals and other folklore.

The importance of religious leaders in shaping history and culture is undeniable, including Jesus and his Disciples, Christian saints, religious reformers like Martin Luther and John Calvin, as well as Abraham and other Hebrew patriarchs and prophets. Also significant are deities known to classical civilizations and other early societies, as seen in historical pictures. Founders and leaders of world religions, such as Buddha, have had an important impact on cultures through history and continuing today.

Our economy has been built by merchants, financiers, and industrialists, who also often became philanthropists, for example, Andrew Carnegie. Others who contributed to business include publishers and printers such as Joseph Pulitzer as well as economists, starting with Adam Smith. Labor leaders helped give workers a voice in economic affairs. As historical pictures show, reformers tackled other social issues; for instance, abolitionists who eliminated slavery. Jane Addams founded Hull House, a settlement house in Chicago. Suffragettes were among the women's rights advocates who tirelessly worked for their cause. Another kind of organization, founded by John Muir, was the Sierra Club, one of the first groups dedicated to conservation, in addition to its goals of recreation and education. Prominent educators included scholars and professors, but especially those who founded colleges to serve a special purpose, for example, Booker T. Washington who organized Tuskegee Institute to teach former African-American slaves.

The medical profession has many representatives in historical pictures, especially microbiologists and other medical researchers whose work has saved lives through the conquest or prevention of diseases. A prime example is Edward Jenner, who developed the first smallpox vaccine, and later research by Louis Pasteur, who expanded the reach of vaccinations to include prevention of rabies and anthrax. Throughout history human knowledge has been expanded by science; important scientists' portraits include mathematicians from Pythagoras to Leonhard Euler; physicists exemplified by Isaac Newton; chemists like Antoine Lavoisier; biologists such as Georges Cuvier and Charles Darwin; and the great archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann. Based on these brilliant theorists, inventors created systems and devices that transformed daily life, including James Watt who made the steam engine operational, Blaise Pascal who created a mechanical calculator, Samuel Morse with his telegraph, and the prolific Thomas Edison whose electric light transformed the night.

Photos of statues and monuments offer another view of important people and their deeds, from the life-size bronze sculpture of Constantine the Great, enthroned beside York Cathedral where he was named Roman Emperor, or the unforgettable marble Abraham Lincoln in Washington DC, to Civil War memorials on scattered battlefields and other sites. These monuments are among our efforts to retain a visual memory of heroes and heroines so that future generations may learn from historical events.


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