Reference Entry

Brunel, Isambard Kingdom

Robert Thorne

in Oxford Art Online


Published online January 2003 | e-ISBN: 9781884446054 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/gao/9781884446054.article.T011771

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(b Portsea, Hants, April 9, 1806; d London, Sept 15, 1859).

English engineer. In the course of a short, incessantly energetic career, he achieved a reputation as one of the leading engineers of his time. The number and variety of projects for which he took responsibility was astonishing, and the fact that some were failures seemed only to confirm the fertile originality of his overall output. Since his death, particularly in the later 20th century, he has been classed as one of the heroes of England’s industrial past.

Brunel’s father, Sir Marc Isambard Brunel (1769–1849), was himself an illustrious engineer. Born in France, he fled to America at the time of the French Revolution and from there moved in 1799 to England, where he obtained a naval contract for block-making machinery. He sent his only son to France to be educated, first in Normandy and then at the Lycée Henri-Quatre in Paris. I. K. Brunel remained in Paris and was apprenticed to a clockmaker and instrument maker before being summoned back to England to join his father, who was about to start his most daring project, the making of a tunnel beneath the Thames between Rotherhithe and Wapping in London’s docklands. Restarted in ...

Reference Entry.  1067 words. 

Subjects: Architecture ; 19th-Century Art

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