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Man of science


“Man of Science,” this oil-on-canvas portrait painted in 1839 is of an unidentified sitter and was painted by an unknown artist. Still, the painting holds intriguing clues about America’s ardor for science and its applications in the early 1800s. The painting is featured in“The Great American Hall of Wonders,”a current exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum that examines the nineteenth-century American belief that the people of the United States shared a special genius for innovation.