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Containers Holding the Chemical Elements

© the artist. Photo credit: The Royal Institution

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This painting is part of a series depicting scientific apparatus on display in the Royal Institution’s museum. It shows containers holding some of the chemical elements isolated by Humphry Davy while working in the Royal Institution.

Davy made his name in science experimenting with the effects of different gases such as nitrous oxide (laughing gas). At the Royal Institution he began to experiment with electro-chemistry. This was a very new and exciting branch of science, made possible by Alessandro Volta inventing the battery in the 1790s.

In total between 1807 and 1814 Davy isolated or identified nine chemical elements including sodium and potassium.

The Royal Institution





oil on linen


H 19.9 x W 25.4 cm

Accession number

EN 29

Acquisition method

gift from Dr Mary Joyce Pickersgill, 2010

Work type



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Normally on display at

The Royal Institution

21 Albermarle Street, London, Greater London W1S 4BS England

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