The subject of this portrait, Sir Christopher Zeeman, was the founding Professor of Mathematics when the University of Warwick opened in 1965. It was his vision, his ability to attract outstanding mathematicians to join his team and his informal style of leadership that led to the establishment of a successful department, a Mathematics Research Centre and eventually a Mathematics Institute which have received widespread acclaim.
After his retirement from Warwick in 1988, he became Principal of Hertford College, Oxford and Gresham Professor of Geometry at Gresham College, London. Zeeman is best known for his work on catastrophe theory and its application not only to physical science but also to biological and behavioural sciences.
He has received many prizes and honours from learned societies and universities and was awarded a knighthood in 1991. His ability to communicate science to public audiences was first recognised by the award of the Faraday Medal by the Royal Society in 1988 and in 2008 the Christopher Zeeman Medal was instituted by the London Mathematical Society and the Institute of Mathematics and Its Applications to be awarded every three years to a mathematician who has made an outstanding contribution to public engagement with mathematics in the UK.
It was as a tribute to this record and to his role in the development of Warwick University that this portrait was commissioned in 2007.