They are documents referred to often by working zoologists, even when the information in their pages is incomplete or has been superseded or refuted by more recent research. The search for the first report and depiction of a species -- crucial information in ongoing zoological research -- may end with a description and an engraving located in an eighteenth-century, or even earlier, publication.
And sadly, because of extirpation of species, this first record may also be the only one. Although they perpetuated many pagan and religious superstitions, as well as earlier inaccuracies, these pioneers usually studied their subjects firsthand and then described what they saw. The often-crude illustrations accompanying the descriptions are integral to the texts, and even in this early period were in many cases amazingly accurate. In early zoologies, as in those published later, artists drew most accurately those animals most familiar to them. This circumstance accounts for the greater attention paid to domestic and native mammals and birds, especially before voyages of exploration introduced new and sometimes improbable creatures from foreign lands.
Before the development of better techniques of taxidermy in the eighteenth century, animal specimens were badly preserved. They could not yield the information that later became available when artists joined expeditions to draw their subjects in their native habitats, and when live animals were brought back for private menageries and, eventually, public zoos.
As subjects of the zoological artist's attentions, some animals are more equal than others. There is no doubt that bird illustrations predominate -- in quantity, arguably in quality, and certainly in popularity. This reflects the special fascination that birds have had for humans throughout the centuries, owing at least in part to their often colorful and sometimes spectacular plumage, as well as the awe inspired by their mastery of the skies.
Until the nineteenth century, many ornithological illustrations, usually drawn from skins or mounted specimens, showed a bird perched on a bare branch. Despite some noteworthy exceptions, it was the art of John James Audubon and of John Gould and his colleagues particularly Josef Wolf that first consistently imparted motion and life to bird illustrations. Colored lithographs were an ideal medium to capture the vivid hues of a bird's plumage, with colored engravings running a close second.
Illustrations of mammals, our closest relatives in the animal kingdom, have often achieved popularity as decorative art apart from their scientific functions. The highly colored, scenic lithographs and engravings of the nineteenth century are especially popular.
Many striking mammal portraits of this period appear in breeders' manuals devoted to the improvement of domestic animals. Depictions of other land animals are not as well known as their artistic merits might warrant. Snakes in particular have, since biblical times, often evoked loathing and fear, despite their attractive colors and patterns and the inoffensive nature of most species.
Many herpetologies are beautifully illustrated, but these images will probably never vie with those of birds, horses, and butterflies as living-room decoration.
Although 70 percent of the earth's surface is covered by water, home to representatives from nearly all twenty-nine phyla, or major divisions of the animal kingdom, zoological artists have devoted less attention to marine and fresh-water fauna. The relative inaccessibility of the ocean depths until this century was one reason.
Another was the special fragility of aquatic creatures, which decay very rapidly.
Colors fade quickly and boneless invertebrates collapse as soon as they are removed from the water. Mollusks, because of their durable shells and the tasty flesh of many have long been familiar to humans, and thousands of species are documented in various multivolume conchologies. In many of these books, the artists grouped shells in geometric or otherwise highly ornamental patterns.
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Crustaceans such as lobsters and crabs also longtime table fare have also often been depicted. Illustrations of fish usually show them rather formally, in profile. Until the seventeenth century, insects, which comprise more than four-fifths of all known living species, were generally considered too tiny and thus too insignificant to merit the attention paid to animals of the "higher" orders.
The development and use of magnifying glasses and microscopes by Anthony van Leeuwenhoek , Robert Hooke , and other pioneers opened the door to a new world. All the details of insect anatomy as well as previously invisible microbes could now be studied and illustrated. By the nineteenth century, microscopes had become standard tools of naturalists and zoological artists, and accompanied them on field trips and voyages. Engraving on metalplate, the dominant reproductive graphic method of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, was an ideal technique to capture the tiny details of microscopic creatures and highly magnified insect parts.
Because of their beauty of color and form, the lepidoptera butterflies and moths abound among illustrated entomologies.
Numerous multivolume works were published, usually with many individuals illustrated life-size on each page. Sometimes the figures were simply arrayed in a grid pattern, a layout common in illustrations of beetles and other insects, but often, intricate geometric arrangements created pretty designs. Space was frequently conserved by flipping over one wing, thus showing both dorsal and ventral views simultaneously. Many artists also included the insects' food plants and all stages of their metamorphosis, from egg to adult.
Maria Sibylla Merian was the first to depict these spectacular transformations, in her famed study of the insects of Surinam. The quality of published illustrations was dependent on the skills of the craftspeople involved in translating the artists' designs into a graphic medium. These essential middlemen and women have in general not been accorded the recognition due them: many prints do not display the engraver or lithographer's name, and many of these artisans were known only by their last names.
Some zoological bibliographies do not even specify the medium of the illustrations, much less the identities of artists and printmakers. Those that focus on the art, such as the Bradley Martin catalogs and Nissen's bibliographies, are outstanding exceptions. Although some artists cut their own woodblocks, or engraved or etched their own designs on the metal plate, it was lithography, invented at the end of the eighteenth century, and dominant in the second half of the nineteenth, that allowed artists to draw directly on the printing stone. Many zoological illustrators took advantage of this opportunity, creating what are sometimes termed artist lithographs.
Others employed lithographers who sometimes were illustrators in their own right to transfer their drawings. To produce colored illustrations, prints created by all of the above methods were colored by hand. Consequently, the quality of the coloring often varied from print to print. Even after techniques for printing in color were developed, retouching by hand was usual in the creation of a fine print.
The printmaker might or might not have been the person who actually printed the illustration as opposed to cutting the design in the wood or metal, or drawing on the lithographic stone. Some illustrations credit not only the artist and engraver or lithographer, but also the printmaker. Those who hand-colored the prints were hardly ever mentioned, and were often female -- either members of the artist's family, or, especially in the nineteenth century, poorly paid artisans. Gross, Miriam. Balis, Jan. Merveilleux plumages.
- Those Hills.
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Exhibition catalogue Sotheby's, New York. The Library of H. Bradley Martin. Wood, Casey A.
An Introduction to the Literature of Vertebrate Zoology; based chiefly on the titles in the Search only public domain materials. Items Collections Divisions. Search Browse About. Navigation About Filters. Le texte par By John James Audubon The birds of Europe birds of eastern North America; with original descriptions of all the species which occur east of the Mississippi River, between the Arctic circle and the Gulf of Mexico, with full notes upon their habits, etc.
By Samuel Hubbard Scudder. With eighty colored plates made from oil portraits of living fishes before their color tints had faded. By William C. Volume I. Samarang; under the command of Captain Sir Edward Belcher By John Edward Gray Sir John Richardson Arthur Adams In select descriptions from the animal, and vegetable, with additions from the mineral kingdom. Systematical arranged. William Daniell Pages: Volume: Vol. Reprinted from edition. The book is printed in black and white. Illustrations if any are also in black and white.
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Editore: Read Books, United Kingdom Valutazione venditore:. Compra nuovo EUR 18, Editore: Schwarz Press Zoological illustrations, or original figures and descriptions of new, rare, or interesting animals, selected chiefly from the classes of ornithology, entomology, and conchology, and arranged according to their apparent affinities [Reprint] Volume: Vol.
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