Monday, July 31, 2006

Trouvelot Astronomy

The planet Jupiter. Observed November 1, 1880, at 9h. 30m. P.M.

The planet Mars. Observed September 3, 1877, at 11h. 55m. P.M.

Total eclipse of the sun. Observed July 29, 1878, at Creston, Wyoming Territory.

Four views of Jupiter, 1872.
"[T]hese views were produced using the [Harvard] observatory's 15-inch refracting telescope made by Merz of Munich, Germany. They show the planet's characteristic cloud belts with festoon structures within that have been now been resolved in detail by robot spacecrafts such as Voyager. At this time, drawings made at the telescope using only the eyes showed more detail than could be produced using the insensitive photographic plates then available."

Mare Humorum. From a study made in 1875.

Group of sun spots and veiled spots. Observed on June 17th 1875 at 7 h. 30 m. A.M.

Aurora Borealis. As observed March 1, 1872, at 9h. 25m. P.M.

Frenchman Étienne Léopold Trouvelot (1827–1895) was primarily a portrait artist when he arrived in Massachusetts in 1852. During the following 30 years that he remained in America his amateur passion for science would ensure a legacy that straddles both fame and infamy.

Trouvelot had a particular love for silkworms and he had a 4 acre plot behind his house where he cultivated a native variety. To increase production he hoped to crossbreed the regular type with a species from Europe. He brought back Gypsy Moth eggs from a trip home and so introduced a virulent pest that ravages forests in America to this day. To his (slight) credit, he realized the enormity of the problem straight away when some of the introduced moths escaped. He made it publically known, but unfortunately local entomologists did nothing at the time to eradicate them.

Trouvelot turned his attention from moths to the stars and began illustrating celestial phenomena. His drawings were so good that the Director of Harvard College Observatory put Trouvelot on staff where he gained access to their powerful telescope.

He would go on to produce some 7000 astronomical drawings and publish 50 scientific papers. His works were displayed at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876 and Trouvelot began to assemble his best drawings for wider publication. In 1881 a series of 15 chromolithographs were released for $125 (!) to great acclaim. He spent the last 3 years of his life back in France pursuing his fascination for solar phenomena.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Remains of the Day

Manolo Prieto (1912-1991) was an advertising and book cover/poster
graphic artist from Spain. This and this are direct links to the galleries
from where the above works were taken - the framed site is a little
annoying. There are other images available from the parent site,
including some of Prieto's famed bullfighting paintings.

Tho' Johnson - 'The First Pugilist in the World' -
in Thomas Fewtrell's 'Science of Manual Defence'1790
at the Linacre School of Defence
There are about 50 pages available but from
(dim) memory this is the only illustration.

'Report of the construction of Edystone Lighthouse' by civil engineer John Smeaton was published in 1813 and is online at Kyoto University Library.
It is a history of the 4 lighthouses built near Plymouth at the western end of
the English Channel in the 17th/18th centuries. There are about 20 excellent
images (well, if you're into lighthouse architectural drawings they are)
with high resolution details available.

This gorgeous chrysanthemum is from the 'Camerarius Florilegium',
produced in about 1589 by at most 2 artists for Joachim Camerarius.
The Harald Fischer Verlag site has about 20 images in large format.
Link direct to images (2 pages). Link to information in english.
Link to the site in german - there is a pdf file in here which
has a bit more background and a couple more small images.

Illustrations © Szymon Kruczek from Poland. He seems to like the moon, fish and...whimsy. Click around; although 'alignment' of the images became
a bit of an issue in firefox. I had to nab the source code and open the images
in an another tab to save them. But there is always the chance it was just me.
There is a link from his site to 'polskie strony artystyczne' -
I have only had a quick look at a few things, but I sense there
is some major Polish artistic timekill in amongst that lot.

I have no recollection where this Portuguese heraldic plate comes from.

'Deutschland, Mißgeburt mit Flügeln und schuppigem linken Bein,
die 1506 in Florenz geboren sein soll, nach 1506, Druck, Nürnberg,
Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Graphische Sammlung, HB 21779'

'Nürnberg 1501-1600 ' [I have a very vague recollection that I've either seen or
previously posted a colour version of this image(?)]

'Schmaritz, Jakob, Flugblatt ..Von dem grossen Wunder und Mirackel
eines Fisches..., 1624, Flugblatt, Nürnberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum.'
These last 3 images were found in the magic/religion theme in
'Bildindex der Kunst und Architektur des Bildarchivs Foto Marburg'.

The Anatomy of a Pygmie

"I take him to be wholly a Brute, tho' in the formation of the Body, and in the Sensitive or Brutal Soul, it may be, more resembling a Man, than any other Animal; so that in this Chain of the Creation, as an intermediate Link between an Ape and a Man, I would place our Pygmie."

“one would be apt to think, that since there is so great a disparity
between the Soul of a Man, and a Brute, the Organ likewise in
which ’tis placed should be very different too.”

[click for full size versions]

Edward Tyson (1650–1708) was an English physician and member of the Royal Society. Beyond his medical duties and publications (both of which were significant and extensive) he had a deep interest in comparative anatomy, an area of scientific investigation in which he is one of the leading early protagonists.

In 1680 he had already outlined this interest in 'Phocaena or the Anatomy of the Porpess' in which he not only systematically described cetacean structures but also wrote of "the importance of a comparative approach to anatomy and attempts to develop a plan for a natural history of animals." He performed dissections on many different species and published his findings in the 'Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society'.

In the late 1690s a chimpanzee had only been seen illustrated in Europe once previously and the larger apes such as the orangutan and gorilla were not discovered or described until the 18th and 19th centuries respectively. It was not surprising therefore that Tyson was given the opportunity to dissect a chimpanzee that had been brought over from Africa in 1698.

The chimpanzee was a juvenile (which led to some erroneous anatomical statements) and was injured on board its transport ship. The injury later became infected and caused the chimp's death. This injury is either directly or inadvertently represented in the engraving above (all the drawings were done by the anatomist William Cowper) in which the bipedal chimp is seen using a walking stick. Tyson described the animal as quadru-manous to distinguish it from the quadrupeds.

The reference to 'Orang-Outang' in the title is only in terms of it meaning "man of the woods" [homo silvestris]. So it was that 'The Anatomy of a Pygmie' marked the beginning of primatology, and there is some irony in Tyson having been a distant cousin of Charles Darwin. I haven't searched around but I would not be surprised to learn that the expression 'the missing link' derives from Tyson's meticulous documentation of the anatomical comparison between chimpanzees and man.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Mirror of Human Salvation

The anonymous 'Speculum Humanæ Salvationis' was written at the beginning of the 14th century and several hundred versions were produced in all major European languages up to the end of the 15th century. The images above come from a 1430 German version.

"In its text and pictures the Speculum contains a vivid account of the religious and artistic forces at work in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, when the lessons in piety, the allegories, and all of the arts were devoted to instilling in the minds of the people the need for salvation and the dread of eternal damnation. The Speculum is entirely concerned with the Fall and Redemption and with their prefiguration in the Old Testament."
In addition to its widespread popularity over a few centuries, 'Speculum' is one of the most important works in the history of printing. It is the only book from the middle ages that exists in illuminated manuscript, blockbook and incunabula form.

Because it was so widely reproduced and derives from a single origin, 'Speculum' also constitutes a significant body of work in terms of book illustration. The copying, "which followed the precise numerical pattern of the original manuscript [..] and iconography [..] holds a unique place in the study of medieval miniatures in providing an enormous variety of styles and visual interpretations of the identical sequence of subjects."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Assorted Ex Libris

Murray Gell-Mann won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1969 for
discovering quarks - the bookplate was uploaded by Bookplate Junkie.

An opthalmologist's bookplate from Microscopic Ex Libris
(16 pages of Science/Microscope related bookplates)

The above 2 are by Ivan Miladinovic [flash] {update: that flash site is dead; some of his works can be found here}

All the unlabelled images and half of the others come by way of a great new weblog - Confessions of a Bookplate Junkie. [via]

Those unlabelled images were snagged from a Japanese bookplate collector's forum where there are something in the order of 500 bookplates [The link below '(91)' in the left column brings up the thumbnail views. The links below that give full size versions. I've actually posted works by Tyukanov, Hrapov and Denisenko previously]***

***After thinking about it and having a quick check, I wouldn't be surprised if most or all of the images at the Japanese forum were lifted from the wonderful Ex Libris Museum.***

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