|Dates: ||1800 - 1878|
Born into a Quaker family in Dublin, Grubb separated from the Society of Friends to marry in 1826. Little else is known about his early days, but by 1830 he had established himself as a very clever mechanical engineer. His system for supporting large mirrors was critical to the success of Lord Rosse’s gigantic telescope, “The Leviathan,” completed at Parsonstown in 1845. He almost certainly would have met Dr. thomas woods while working there. Grubb’s interest in photography grew naturally out of his manufacture of fine optics, and in 1854 he was one of the founding members of the Dublin Photographic Society. He displayed his achromatic photographic lenses in the Dublin International Exhibition in 1853, but his achievements were not all technical. Four years later he showed some of his own photographs in the exhibition of the Photographic Society in London. All done in waxed paper, these included architectural views around Ireland, studies of foliage and a cedar of Lebanon, and the Telescope of Lord Rosse, the very instrument that Grubb’s mechanical genius had made possible. Grubb published extensively on photography, usually on lenses and cameras, and his 1858 “aplanatic” lens was important to the development of landscape and wide-angle photography. Later in his career he was appointed engineer to the Bank of Ireland. Confined to a sickbed at the end of his life, Grubb designed and had built a swing bench that pivoted over his bed, and he died with his tools in his hands.
Roger Taylor & Larry J. Schaaf Impressed by Light: British Photographs from Paper Negatives, 1840-1860 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2007)
This biography is courtesy and copyright of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is included here with permission.
Date last updated: 4 Nov 2012.
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