Posts tagged illustration

30 posts tagged illustration

This month marks the publication of Opulent Oceans: Extraordinary Rare Book Selections from the American Museum of Natural History Library (Sterling Signature, 2014), the third in a series showcasing the spectacular holdings of the Rare Book Collection in the Museum Library.
Written by Curator Melanie L. J. Stiassny, the book includes essays about pioneering biologists who studied marine life, and showcases a variety of scientific illustrations that brought new discoveries to a growing audience of experts and laypeople alike.
We recently spoke with Dr. Stiassny, who is Axelrod Research Curator in the Department of Ichthyology, about her experiences researching the book.
Q: Are there any particular favorites among the scientists you feature?
A: One of my favorites is Johann David Schöpf (1752–1800) who was an iconic example of a polymath, adventurer, and humanitarian. He was a medical doctor, as so many of them were, fascinated by natural history, paleontology, weather patterns, botany, geology—everything. His travels through post-Revolutionary America were an amazing feat of courage and discovery.
Q: What surprised you in preparing the book?
A: I could not find a single volume in the Museum’s Rare Book Collection containing the work of a female marine naturalist. I did manage to find a few women doing great stuff but unacknowledged by the scientific community of their time. There was one botanist, William Henry Harvey (1811–1866), who went to great pains to single out and thank the women who had contributed to his work. He is a favorite too!
Q: What was your personal take-away?
A: Tremendous respect for the extraordinary courage and commitment of these early marine explorers. When I am in the Congo, we have satellite phones. We go to a cybercafe once a month. They were out there for years with no communications, suffering diseases, shipwrecks—and think what they did. They traveled, wrote, did so much, and then died at 30 or 40. Schöpf was 48! I’m in awe of what they accomplished. I also felt a camaraderie with their excitement in discovery and drive to understand the natural world. That mission and excitement is very much the same for curators today. The great majority were with big museums. Their names are on the specimen jars; our names are on the jars. There’s remarkable continuity, despite our advanced technology. They had the same driving force. The same camping out under the stars.
Read the full Q&A on the Museum blog, and pick up your own copy of Opulent Oceans!

This month marks the publication of Opulent Oceans: Extraordinary Rare Book Selections from the American Museum of Natural History Library (Sterling Signature, 2014), the third in a series showcasing the spectacular holdings of the Rare Book Collection in the Museum Library.

Written by Curator Melanie L. J. Stiassny, the book includes essays about pioneering biologists who studied marine life, and showcases a variety of scientific illustrations that brought new discoveries to a growing audience of experts and laypeople alike.

We recently spoke with Dr. Stiassny, who is Axelrod Research Curator in the Department of Ichthyology, about her experiences researching the book.

Q: Are there any particular favorites among the scientists you feature?

A: One of my favorites is Johann David Schöpf (1752–1800) who was an iconic example of a polymath, adventurer, and humanitarian. He was a medical doctor, as so many of them were, fascinated by natural history, paleontology, weather patterns, botany, geology—everything. His travels through post-Revolutionary America were an amazing feat of courage and discovery.

Q: What surprised you in preparing the book?

A: I could not find a single volume in the Museum’s Rare Book Collection containing the work of a female marine naturalist. I did manage to find a few women doing great stuff but unacknowledged by the scientific community of their time. There was one botanist, William Henry Harvey (1811–1866), who went to great pains to single out and thank the women who had contributed to his work. He is a favorite too!

Q: What was your personal take-away?

A: Tremendous respect for the extraordinary courage and commitment of these early marine explorers. When I am in the Congo, we have satellite phones. We go to a cybercafe once a month. They were out there for years with no communications, suffering diseases, shipwrecks—and think what they did. They traveled, wrote, did so much, and then died at 30 or 40. Schöpf was 48! I’m in awe of what they accomplished. I also felt a camaraderie with their excitement in discovery and drive to understand the natural world. That mission and excitement is very much the same for curators today. The great majority were with big museums. Their names are on the specimen jars; our names are on the jars. There’s remarkable continuity, despite our advanced technology. They had the same driving force. The same camping out under the stars.

Read the full Q&A on the Museum blog, and pick up your own copy of Opulent Oceans!

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.




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.

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.

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. 

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

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

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.

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.

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