“I’d like some fresh, clear, well-seasoned perspective.”*

*Anton Ego, character in Ratatouille, the 2007 American computer-animated comedy film produced by Pixar.

Image: Joshua Kirby died at Kew, aged 58, in 1774, followed a year later by his wife, and both were buried in the churchyard (front right of image) of St Anne’s Church, Kew. Thomas Gainsborough, R.A., FRSA, who died in 1788, was buried nearby (back left of image), having particularly requested to lie beside his old and faithful friend.

Dr. Duncan J. Melville completed his undergraduate work in London, England and earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale University. His early interest in Lie algebras, quantum groups and exotic representations has been followed by a burgeoning interest in the history of mathematics, especially the mathematics of Mesopotamia. He is currently working to understand some representations of Kac-Moody superalgebras on the one hand, and exactly how certain types of Old Babylonian mathematical texts and tablets were used on the other. He is also the Abstracts Editor for Historia Mathematica.

Dr. Melville has taught mathematics for over twenty years. He is the Martha E. ’62 and Gregg E. Peterson Professor of Mathematics at St. Lawrence University, a private liberal arts college in the village of Canton in St. Lawrence County, New York. (The name comes from the Chinese city Canton. The first post office used the name “New Cairo,” but changed to Canton by 1807.)

Dr. Melville has a website called Kirby and his world,

“dedicated to Joshua Kirby (1716–1774), his life, times, friends, and anything else I find interesting about mid-18th century England…

…Kirby was from Suffolk, an artist and author, writing on perspective in art. He was the author of Brook Taylor’s Method of Perspective Made Easy, which ran through three editions, and the lavishly produced Perspective of Architecture. He was tutor in perspective to the Prince of Wales (the future George III), and Clerk of Works at Kew and Richmond.

He was a friend of Thomas Gainsborough and William Hogarth.  Gainsborough painted a portrait of Kirby and his wife in the late 1740′s.

In 1761 Joshua Kirby and his son William were appointed Joint Clerks of the Works and Storekeepers at Richmond and Kew, a position they held until their respective deaths.”

The son of a land surveyor and topographer, Kirby was a landscape painter who served as President of the Society of Artists, officially known as the Incorporated Society of Artists of Great Britain, which encouraged the public exhibition of works of art by living artists. It was a divided organisation in the decline of which the Royal Academy was planned and formed, in which he declined to accept a Professorship of Perspective.

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