Knobs or Points?
Is lightning natural or divine? Opinion split royalists and republicans.
Like all long-awaited events, Benjamin Wilson’s big day arrived at last. After years of bitter in-fighting, in 1777 the fashionable artist staged a spectacular display in front of George III and a few selected courtiers gathered together inside London’s Pantheon. Completed five years earlier, these Oxford Street assembly rooms boasted a massive rotunda flanked by colonnades and topped by a dome – ‘the most beautiful edifice in England’, according to the Gothic author Horace Walpole. That autumn, this splendid building became the site of an extraordinary experiment.