1. Two-toed Sloth
Albert Seba’s (1665-1736) four volume Thesaurus (Locupletissimi rerum naturalium thesauri accurata descriptio…) illustrated the Dutch apothecary’s enormous collection of animal and plant specimens amassed over the years. Using preserved specimens, Seba’s artists could depict anatomy accurately—but not behavior. For example, this two-toed sloth is shown climbing upright, even though in nature, sloths hang upside down.
See this and other illustrations from the Museum’s Rare Book Collection in Natural Histories: 400 Years of Scientific Illustration from the Museum’s Library.

    Two-toed Sloth

    Albert Seba’s (1665-1736) four volume Thesaurus (Locupletissimi rerum naturalium thesauri accurata descriptio…) illustrated the Dutch apothecary’s enormous collection of animal and plant specimens amassed over the years. Using preserved specimens, Seba’s artists could depict anatomy accurately—but not behavior. For example, this two-toed sloth is shown climbing upright, even though in nature, sloths hang upside down.

    See this and other illustrations from the Museum’s Rare Book Collection in Natural Histories: 400 Years of Scientific Illustration from the Museum’s Library.

  2. 


Frozen Urine
Micrographia (1667), the first book in English to illustrate the microscopic world, was popular in part because it presented an enormous range of subjects. The meticulous illustrations of a flea and other minute creatures, foretold a new chapter in natural history, in which organisms could be classified according to precisely detailed descriptions of their anatomy—even the tiniest. 
This image, by author and illustrator Robert Hooke, depicts geometric formations in frozen urine (presumably his own).
See this and other illustrations from the Museum’s Rare Book Collection in Natural Histories: 400 Years of Scientific Illustration from the Museum’s Library.

    Frozen Urine

    Micrographia (1667), the first book in English to illustrate the microscopic world, was popular in part because it presented an enormous range of subjects. The meticulous illustrations of a flea and other minute creatures, foretold a new chapter in natural history, in which organisms could be classified according to precisely detailed descriptions of their anatomy—even the tiniest. 

    This image, by author and illustrator Robert Hooke, depicts geometric formations in frozen urine (presumably his own).

    See this and other illustrations from the Museum’s Rare Book Collection in Natural Histories: 400 Years of Scientific Illustration from the Museum’s Library.

  3. Hey science enthusiasts! Hey art lovers!
Check out this new Vertebrate Zoology Anatomy Illustration Pinboard, compiled from various Museum archives, including the Rare Book Collection and diorama preparation materials. 

    Hey science enthusiasts! Hey art lovers!

    Check out this new Vertebrate Zoology Anatomy Illustration Pinboard, compiled from various Museum archives, including the Rare Book Collection and diorama preparation materials. 

  4. Johann Friederich Wilhelm Herbst (1743-1807), a German churchman, naturalist, and superb artist, drew this illustration of the crab Cancer reticulatus for his book series Versuch einer Naturgeschichte der Krabben und Krebse… (Attempt at a natural history of crabs and crayfish…). In this three-volume work, Herbst illustrated and described crabs and crayfish. Thanks to their meticulous detail and coloring, the beautiful images endure as a useful scientific resource. 
See this and other illustrations from the Museum’s Rare Book Collection in Natural Histories: 400 Years of Scientific Illustration from the Museum’s Library.

    Johann Friederich Wilhelm Herbst (1743-1807), a German churchman, naturalist, and superb artist, drew this illustration of the crab Cancer reticulatus for his book series Versuch einer Naturgeschichte der Krabben und Krebse… (Attempt at a natural history of crabs and crayfish…). In this three-volume work, Herbst illustrated and described crabs and crayfish. Thanks to their meticulous detail and coloring, the beautiful images endure as a useful scientific resource. 

    See this and other illustrations from the Museum’s Rare Book Collection in Natural Histories: 400 Years of Scientific Illustration from the Museum’s Library.

  5. Madagascar Chameleon
In Erpétologie générale …(General herpetology…), the first comprehensive account of all amphibians and reptiles then described by scientists, organized by French zoologist André-Marie-Constant Duméril (1774-1860), dead and sometimes poorly preserved museum specimens appear in remarkably lifelike postures. This illustration depicts the Madagascar warty chameleon (Furcifer verrucosus).
See this and other illustrations from the Museum’s Rare Book Collection in the exhibition Natural Histories: 400 Years of Scientific Illustration from the Museum’s Library, open now. 

    Madagascar Chameleon

    In Erpétologie générale …(General herpetology…), the first comprehensive account of all amphibians and reptiles then described by scientists, organized by French zoologist André-Marie-Constant Duméril (1774-1860), dead and sometimes poorly preserved museum specimens appear in remarkably lifelike postures. This illustration depicts the Madagascar warty chameleon (Furcifer verrucosus).

    See this and other illustrations from the Museum’s Rare Book Collection in the exhibition Natural Histories: 400 Years of Scientific Illustration from the Museum’s Library, open now. 

  6. Aspidonia Illustration
Ernst Haeckel in his work Kunstformen der Natur (1899-1904), grouped together these specimens, including trilobites (which are extinct) and horseshoe crabs, so the viewer could clearly see similarities that point to the evolutionary process.
    This and other drawings from the Museum Library’s Rare Book collection are on view now in Natural Histories: 400 Years of Scientific Illustration from the Museum’s Library.



 



© AMNH/D. Finnin

    Aspidonia Illustration

    Ernst Haeckel in his work Kunstformen der Natur (1899-1904), grouped together these specimens, including trilobites (which are extinct) and horseshoe crabs, so the viewer could clearly see similarities that point to the evolutionary process.

    This and other drawings from the Museum Library’s Rare Book collection are on view now in Natural Histories: 400 Years of Scientific Illustration from the Museum’s Library.

    © AMNH/D. Finnin

  7. From the Archives: African Botanical Illustration
A botanical illustration by Arthur August Jansson used as a reference for the Serengeti Plain Group in the Akeley Hall of African Mammals. (1926) AMNH/art_002_b2_04a

    From the Archives: African Botanical Illustration

    A botanical illustration by Arthur August Jansson used as a reference for the Serengeti Plain Group in the Akeley Hall of African Mammals. (1926) 

    AMNH/art_002_b2_04a

  8. Natural history nerds, don’t miss a special lecture tomorrow night with Tom Baione, the Museum Library’s director and editor of Natural Histories: Extraordinary Rare Book Selections from the American Museum of Natural History Library. 
This is your chance to see some of the amazing scientific illustrations housed in our Rare Book Collection. Find out which books will be on display in this Q&A. 

    Natural history nerds, don’t miss a special lecture tomorrow night with Tom Baione, the Museum Library’s director and editor of Natural Histories: Extraordinary Rare Book Selections from the American Museum of Natural History Library

    This is your chance to see some of the amazing scientific illustrations housed in our Rare Book Collection. Find out which books will be on display in this Q&A

  9. From the Archives: various species of fish from Renard’s Poissons, écrevisses et crabesIn an effort not to disappoint Europeans who saw collections of preserved tropical fish lacking their brilliant colors, Louis Renard (1678-1746) compiled the book Poissons, with fancifully colored engraved plates depicting fish and crustaceans from the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia).Learn more.

    From the Archives: various species of fish from Renard’s Poissons, écrevisses et crabes

    In an effort not to disappoint Europeans who saw collections of preserved tropical fish lacking their brilliant colors, Louis Renard (1678-1746) compiled the book Poissons, with fancifully colored engraved plates depicting fish and crustaceans from the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia).

    Learn more.

  10. From the archives: botanical illustrations with colors noted, for use in the Ostrich and warthog diorama in the Akeley Hall of African Mammals. (1938)
View more images from the archives here. 

    From the archives: botanical illustrations with colors noted, for use in the Ostrich and warthog diorama in the Akeley Hall of African Mammals. (1938)

    View more images from the archives here

  11. Among the Museum library’s rare books is a silk-covered album containing over 100 beautiful hand-painted butterflies on a dozen plates produced sometime between 1830 and 1871.
A fine example of Chinese trade art intended for Western consumption, the book is important for two reasons.
Keep reading here.

    Among the Museum library’s rare books is a silk-covered album containing over 100 beautiful hand-painted butterflies on a dozen plates produced sometime between 1830 and 1871.

    A fine example of Chinese trade art intended for Western consumption, the book is important for two reasons.

    Keep reading here.

  12. French artist Jacques DeSève drew this portrait of a Mount Zebra (Equus zebra) for the first edition of Count Button’s Histoire naturelle, générale (1749-1804).
See 50 stunning scientific illustrations in Natural Histories: 400 Years of Scientific Illustration, now open.

    French artist Jacques DeSève drew this portrait of a Mount Zebra (Equus zebra) for the first edition of Count Button’s Histoire naturelle, générale (1749-1804).

    See 50 stunning scientific illustrations in Natural Histories: 400 Years of Scientific Illustration, now open.

  13. Louis Renard’s artists embellished their work to satisfy Europeans’ thirst for the unusual. Some illustrations in Poissons, écrevisses et crabes, de diverses couleurs et figures extraordinaires…, like this one, include fish with imaginative colors and patterns and strange, un-fishlike expressions. 
See 50 stunning scientific illustrations in Natural Histories: 400 Years of Scientific Illustration, now open.

    Louis Renard’s artists embellished their work to satisfy Europeans’ thirst for the unusual. Some illustrations in Poissons, écrevisses et crabes, de diverses couleurs et figures extraordinaires…, like this one, include fish with imaginative colors and patterns and strange, un-fishlike expressions.

    See 50 stunning scientific illustrations in Natural Histories: 400 Years of Scientific Illustration, now open.

  14. "Natural history illustration is a wonderful art" says curator Melanie Stiassney in this video. "It can…subtly highlight the features that are very important for a particular species in a away that a photograph can’t necessarily." 

    Come see 50 striking science illustrations from the past 400 years, now on view at the Museum. 

  15. Come see 50 fantastic illustrations in the new exhibition Natural Histories: 400 Years of Scientific Illustration from the Museum’s Library (free with Museum admission!).
In this illustration, Maria Sibylla Merian  captured the life stages of three different insects around their host plant, the passion flower. One fellow naturalist called her book, Metamorphosis, the “most beautiful work ever painted in America.”
AMNH/D. Finnin

    Come see 50 fantastic illustrations in the new exhibition Natural Histories: 400 Years of Scientific Illustration from the Museum’s Library (free with Museum admission!).

    In this illustration, Maria Sibylla Merian  captured the life stages of three different insects around their host plant, the passion flower. One fellow naturalist called her book, Metamorphosis, the “most beautiful work ever painted in America.”

    AMNH/D. Finnin