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Portrait of Albert Einstein and Others (1879-1955), Physicist

Creator/Photographer: Unidentified photographer

Medium: Medium unknown

Date: 1931

Persistent URL: photography.si.edu/SearchImage.aspx?t=5&id=3459&q…

Repository: Smithsonian Institution Libraries

Collection: Scientific Identity: Portraits from the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology – As a supplement to the Dibner Library for the History of Science and Technology’s collection of written works by scientists, engineers, natural philosophers, and inventors, the library also has a collection of thousands of portraits of these individuals. The portraits come in a variety of formats: drawings, woodcuts, engravings, paintings, and photographs, all collected by donor Bern Dibner. Presented here are a few photos from the collection, from the late 19th and early 20th century.

Accession number: SIL14-E1-10

View more collections from the Smithsonian Institution.

Related blog posts:
The Camera Loved Einstein

36 comments to Portrait of Albert Einstein and Others (1879-1955), Physicist

  • Josh Thompson

    The "Date" field doesn’t make any sense. Einstein was *born* in 1879 (as the photo title says).
    [update, much much later] — I see that this was fixed at some point. Thanks]

  • phule

    From the Smithsonian’s own website, to left of Einstein, with hand-in-jacket, is Albert Abraham Michelson and to the right is Robert Andrews Millikan. Tags added.

  • colide81

    This is the coolest picture here on Flickr!!!!!

  • gavinvz

    Albert Einstein has the best hair out of all of them.

  • blech​

    The date is the earliest possible date, given when Einstein was born. Michelson died in 1931, and it’s unikely that this was taken before Einstein’s relativity was widely accepted after the first world war, so I’d suggest this is most likely to be during the 1920s.

  • coconut.merengue

    I absolutely love this photograph. I love how Einstein is completely different from the rest of the men in the group, with his hair all long and disheveled, and staring off into the distance instead of looking at the camera lol….. a true genius…

  • veggeek

    The photo is clearly taken in front of the Athenaeum on the campus of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). It was probably taken during the time that Einstein was at Caltech.

  • blech​

    From the pages on the Nobel Prize’s site about the History of Caltech:

    The list of scientists who accepted Millikan’s invitation represented the cream of European physics, including Paul Dirac, Erwin Schrödinger, Werner Heisenberg, Hendrik Lorentz, and Niels Bohr. Albert Einstein’s visits to the campus in 1931, 1932, and 1933 capped Millikan’s plans to put physics on the map in southern California

    Looks like I was aiming for the wrong decade.

  • Josh Thompson

    A few more of the names are given here:
    photos.aip.org/searchResult2.jsp?item_id=Einstein Albert D5&fname=einstein_albert_d5.jpg&title=null&description=L-R: Adams, Michelson, Einstein’s assistant Walther Meyer, Einstein, Max Farrand of the Huntington Library, Millikan standing Pasadena&credit=Photograph by William Kellogg, California Institute of Technology, courtesy AIP Emilio Segre Visual Archives&photoDate=null&storePublished=Y&color=null&names=Adams, Walter Sydney; Einstein, Albert; Michelson, Albert Abraham; Millikan, Robert Andrews&contactID=null

    L-R: Adams, Michelson, Einstein’s assistant Walther Meyer, Einstein, Max Farrand of the Huntington Library, Millikan

    Given the dates of Einstein’s visits to Caltech and the date of Michelson’s death, it seems clear that this was taken in 1931.

  • mlfeatherston

    Love this image. The PUBLIC DOMAIN rocks!


    1879-1955 is Albert Einstein birth and death

  • Memories by Jules

    This made my day! Einstein fascinates me!

  • blech​

    gijyun: it might be worth noting that Michelson and Millikan also won Nobel Prizes in physics, for the beginnings of the work proving the speed of light is constant and determining the charge of the electron respectively.

  • Wolfywhispers

    Is it just me or does Einstein kinda looks like Peter Sellers?


    What is he (Einstein) holding in his left hand?

  • 2nihon

    I can’t tell…looks like the top of a pocket watch or a whistle or something.

  • BobMeade

    Looks like the mouthpiece of a pipe is visibile in Professor Einstein’s left hand. He was a keen pipe smoker:


  • cotinis

    I wanted to second VegGeek’s identification of the location–almost certainly the Caltech Athenaeum. Caltech has a lot of historical archives, and the Einstein visits were documented–Smithsonian should be able to contact them and probably get an exact date on the photo:
    Aha! Same photo is here on the Caltech archives. The date is given as 1931, as surmised above. Caption reads–replicating information given above, mostly:
    Three Nobel Prize winners: Einstein, Millikan, Michelson 1931
    Front row: A. A. Michelson, Albert Einstein, Robert A. Millikan; back row: Walter S. Adams, Walther Mayer, Max Ferrrand. Photo was taken in front of the Athenaeum
    Photo ID 1.9-1

    The Caltech archivist should have more information.

  • ComputerHotline

    This photo is copied here :

  • earthsound

    The The Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, part of the Niels Bohr Library of the Center for History of Physics at the American Institute of Physics, credits the photographer as William Kellogg, California Institute of Technology.

  • cotinis

    earthsound–very interesting about photographer "William Kellogg". It is hard to find information on him because of the similarity of the name with that of the industrialist W.K. Kellogg, after whom the Kellogg Radiation Laboratory at Caltech is named. I don’t think the industrialist took the photo, but I suppose that is possible! (Or could this just be a mistake in the photo credit, that it was from someone at the Kellogg lab at Caltech?)
    I did find one reference to a "William Kellogg", a meteorologist, in this NASA History document, but it is not clear if this is the same person as the putative photographer. I like the "Kellogg Lab" idea somewhat better.

  • Ahmad PK

    Genius Ghost

  • _Aram Grigoryan_

    Very good photo!!!

  • Smithsonian Libraries

    Thank you for taking the time to comment on our photo! Since these photos were acquired from various print dealers by our donor, Bern Dibner, in the 1940’s, our records for the collection are a bit sparse. Your comments have been extremely valuable in helping us update information for this image. As you can see, we have already added the 1931 date!

  • Mansour Ali

    Can u borrow me ur brain for next EXAM, hero?

  • BobMeade

    On Page 132 of the book

    The Einstein scrapbook
    By Ze’ev Rosenkranz, Bet ha-sefarim ha-leʼumi ṿeha-universiṭaʼi bi-Yerushalayim Albert Einstein Archives
    Published by JHU Press, 2002
    ISBN 0801872030, 9780801872037

    This photograph is credited as being in front of the Athenaeum, Caltech on January 7, 1931.

    The book’s author is also visiting associate in History and visiting editor for the Einstein Papers Project at the California Institute of Technology, and is the former Bern Dibner curator of the Albert Einstein Archives at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, so I guess he knows whereof he speaks.

    Further ref for the book here:


    The relevant page of the book may also be viewed via Google Book Search.

  • Smithsonian Libraries

    Thank you for that reference, lifeasdaddy. Although we currently do not have staff available to do further research, your comment will be very helpful when we update the information for this image.

  • Bastián Despreciable Cifuentes♡

    notable portraits.!
    que ha de quedar en mis F/F de photos.!

    recuerdos memorables.!

    Imagen 0088

  • virgiliomulas.

    Complimenti per questa grandezza.

  • Regulla



    the king of ners =)

  • Glücksklee

    What did he know, what people will know already in hundreds of years?
    Respect for this persons, and respect to the photographer!

  • adebs_e

    Eistein’s one of those people who didn’t just come to the world just to leave the same way.He is an inspiration to those who desire to make a mark in life especially in their career.

  • Emizael Moura


  • TopGun_7

    i am very inspired by his work

  • antoniaantilope

    your photographs are really great. I like this one especially because Einstein was a great guy in history.

    Yours Antonia
    Admin of the Group "Greatest Photographs in 2009"

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