Oval Curves

This folio of 21 archival pigment prints is based on James Clerk Maxwell’s paper ‘On the Description of Oval Curves and those having a plurality of foci ‘ which was published by the Royal Society of Edinburgh in the Society's transactions in April 1846.

The importance of this paper was more the effect it had on Maxwell's life rather than its content. Although some of this paper was original, Descartes had already documented much of what was contained long before Maxwell began his work. However, the achievement was not that the ideas were new, but that they were conceived at only fourteen years old. This paper helped put Maxwell in contact with some of his biggest influences and started him on the path to a career in mathematics.

The archival pigment prints in this series were made in response to studying Clerk Maxwell's drawings and notes for this paper held at The Royal Society of Edinburgh and explore variations and permutations of some of the oval curves from his original drawings.