Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Challenger's Haul

voyage map

primate handsThis is an inverted, spliced and 'scrubbed' detail from a plate entitled
'Phascolarctos cinereus and Didelphys Virginiana', 1882 by Cunningham.

drymonema victoria
radiolaria 1
collozoumThe above 4 images come from the renowned Ernst Haeckel
and I only just now realise that all the plates he prepared for
the Challenger publication are in fact available from Kurt Stüber's
website [I, II, III, IV] (about my favourite place on the web)
[If you haven't encountered the amazing 'martian' plankton
images from Haeckel before, absolutely definitely see:
'Radiolarien' and 'Kunstformen der Natur']

human crania
polylophus philippinensis
foraminifera globigerina
eudyptes chrysocome
cephalopoda hoyle

HMS Challenger was a steam assisted wooden corvette that sailed nearly 70,000 miles around the world between 1872 and 1876, engaged in marine exploration and specimen collection. The former naval ship had been refitted to house purpose-built laboratories, a dredging platform and extra cabins for the 250 crew and scientists.

The voyage was a benchmark for oceanographic science, with extensive physical, chemical, biological and meteorological measurements and sampling undertaken methodically for the first time in all the oceans of the world, save the Arctic. Among other thing they were able to establish that living organisms could survive at great depths in pitch black conditions (going against the beliefs at the time) and that some sediment on the ocean floor originated from comets.

In addition to the vast numbers of newly discovered marine creatures collected, the ship spent considerable time in ports, allowing for further exhaustive fauna sampling and studying of native cultures and their physiology (see skulls above). Much of the 2 volume summary from the eventual 50 volumes of Challenger scientific papers published by 1895 described the eclectic tribes and their customs..
"King Thackery of the Fiji Islands of the Pacific was converted to Christianity, but had earlier cut out a victim's tongue, and then proceeded to eat it in his victim's presence, before eating the rest of him. Most of the other people encountered were less disturbing."

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Maritime Curios

The Greenwich Pensioner caricature'The Greenwich Pensioner'
by N. Carpenter; Charles Dibdin, late 18th cent.
"This robust, popular image illustrates the text of Charles Dibdin's well known song, 'The Greenwich Pensioner' which is printed below it (not shown on photo). The Pensioner, with a left wooden peg-leg, a stout stick under his left arm and a clay pipe in his left hand stands on the north side of the Thames, gesturing towards Greenwich Hospital, the Queen's House and the Royal Observatory in the background with his right hand.

The stern of a small Royal Naval warship flying the red ensign is on the left, with a sprit-rigged river craft, and the Union flag flies above the Governor's House in the King Charles Court on the right. The Pensioner's position is falsely elevated, producing an aerial perspective of the Grand Square behind, with Rysbrack's statue of George II in the centre. The background design may derive from Rigaud's much earlier print of the Hospital, or similar ones which adopt this perspective."
More on the Greenwich Pensioner/Royal Hospital for Seamen, Greenwich: I, II.

Lady Hamilton as the goddess of health'Emma Hart afterwards Lady Hamilton as the goddess
of health while being exhibited in that character by
Dr Graham in Pall Mall' by Richard Cosway c. 1785.
"A pen and wash sketch showing Emma Hart enacting a ‘tableaux vivant’. She wears loosely flowing classical robes and Greek-style sandals and holds a ritualistic goblet. She is posing as Vestina, the goddess of health, an attitude she adopted while employed with the well-known quack doctor, Dr James Graham.

He opened a Temple of Health and Hymen, initially in the Adelphi and later at Schomberg House, Pall Mall. Magnificently fitted out, it attracted crowds who visited to hear Graham’s lectures on the advantages of electricity and magnetism. He also advocated healthy living and personal beauty, leading to happiness in body and mind, while the Temple was further famed for its ‘celestial bed’ in which infertile couples could pay a large sum to spend the night as an aid to conception – or so ran the promotion.

Graham also endorsed the frequent use of mud-baths and was reputedly seen immersed in mud while wearing an elaborately dressed wig, accompanied by Emma, with her hair elaborately dressed with powder, flowers, feathers, and ropes of pearls.

Emma’s ‘attitudes’, in which she portrayed contrasting emotions through gesture, expression and a variety of props were more fully developed after she became Sir William Hamilton’s mistress at Naples in 1786, and later his second wife. Hamilton encouraged this, tutoring her in antique gesture based on his knowledge of classical sculpture and vase decoration, supervising her performances, and having artists record them – Frederick Rehberg’s drawings being published at his expense.

The overall result was that she was celebrated throughout Europe for this unique form of personal performance. This drawing is an early record of her in such a role and one that also captures her erotic youthful beauty."

"..In her performances of these ['attitudes'], which she first began about 1786, Emma adopted poses taken from classical sculpture or Renaissance painting: at one point Sir William Hamilton even constructed a special box with a black border for her to pose in, to imitate more closely the appearance of a framed painting.

Numerous contemporary descriptions praise both her skill at adopting poses that would have been easily recognizable to connoisseurs steeped in a classical education and her own naturally ‘classical’ beauty. Rehberg’s publication was highly popular, running to several editions: so much so that it was lampooned in 1807 by (probably) James Gillray, who substituted for the graceful, classically proportioned body of Rehberg’s prints a ‘considerably enlarged’ figure, truer to the by then excessively fat Lady Hamilton, in what was termed a ‘new edition ... humbly dedicated to all admirers of the grand and sublime’. "(eg.)

Officer viewing through periscope'Submarine Series. Officer viewing
through periscope' by Eric Ravilious 1940.
"In 1940 Ravilious became one of the first official war artists. During the summer he was at HMS 'Dolphin' at Gosport drawing the interiors of submarines, sometimes at sea. He had already conceived the idea of a set of submarine lithographs intended as a children's painting book, and in November he set to work."
[He died in 1942. See: Imperial War Museum exhibition; all the illustrations from 'High Street'; gallery of illustrations and crockery; homesite.]

bouffant hairstyles satire 1777'The Ton at Greenwich. A la Festoon dans
le Park a Greenwich' by Darly 1777.
"A satire on the size of French-inspired bouffant hairstyles and their protection, with the Observatory on the hill on the right. The print is also an early image of an umbrella - carried by the servant. This was invented (or at least popularized) by Jonas Hanway, founder of the Marine Society, which educated and fitted out orphan boys for a career at sea."

starboard view revolutionary french bow'Le San Culote' [Sans-Culotte], figurehead Revolutionary
French ship circa 1795 {from the French School}
"It was usual for ships to bear figureheads with political or ideological meanings. This is one of two drawings of the French Revolutionary ship ‘Sans-Culotte’, the other of which shows the stern. Here the starboard profile view of the prow focuses on the figurehead, the icon of the Revolutionary ideal, the Jacobin ‘sans-culotte’.

He is, however, a fusion of various Revolutionary iconographies. The Republic took as its political model the ‘polis’ of the classical Greek republic, and openly adopted severely rational, neo-classical cultural ideals in emulation of the classical past. The mythological hero Hercules was also adopted, along with the female icon Marianne, as the incarnation of French Revolutionary principles.

Here, therefore, the ‘sans-culotte’s’ dress is transformed into a classicized toga, and, while clutching the ‘fasces’ (the bound rods and axe that represented Roman justice) with his left hand, he holds in his right a Herculean club. On the other hand, his contemporary identity is also represented, somewhat incongruously, by his wearing typical French 18th-century footwear and the obligatory ‘bonnet rouge’."

Battle of Trafalgar Panorama sketch'Battle of Trafalgar. Panorama, Leicester Square'.
Lithography by J Adlard after Henry Aston Barker c.1806.
"Cleverly painted, masked and lit by daylight from above, these circular panoramas gave the illusion to those standing on the central viewing platform that they were really in the landscape, seascape or battle scene that were the usual subjects. The panorama was invented about 1787 by Robert Barker of Edinburgh. From 1794 to 1863, he and his successors exhibited many such spectacles in ‘The Panorama’, his purpose-built premises in Cranbourne Street, Leicester Square, where the largest views – including this one of Trafalgar, shown in 1806 – were about 30 feet high by 90 feet across (9 x 27m), on 10,000 square feet (930 sq. m) of canvas.

Many other showmen copied Barker and circular panoramas became common across Europe and America. A few survive (as well as modern ones) but the last large circular panorama of Trafalgar was painted by Philip Fleischer in 1890. It was seen in Edinburgh and Manchester before being shown at the 1891 Royal Naval Exhibition at Chelsea, and then toured on the Continent.

When they met at Palermo in 1799, Nelson thanked Barker for prolonging the fame of the Battle of the Nile in a Leicester Square panorama. This is the printed viewer’s ‘key’ to the version of Trafalgar painted in the year of Barker’s death by his son Henry. It was displayed for over a year from about 14 May 1806 to 25 May 1807."
Unfortunately, I couldn't track down any images of Fleischer's painting - 'image unavailable' (near the end of the page). At least it put some ideas and sites into my orbit for a future post.

satire egyptian clothing accoutrements'Dresses a la Nile respectfully dedicated to the
Fashion Mongers of the day' by W. Holland 1798.

"A gentle lampoon against British fashionable society, making facetious suggestions for ways to incorporate the topical news of Nelson’s victory over the French fleet at the Battle of the Nile on 1 August into the latest fashions.

It was commonplace for people to display patriotic sentiment or political opinions (for example, for the campaign for the abolition of the slave trade) through dress or other accoutrements, but this satire takes this trend to ridiculous extremes, with its overabundant and absurd Egyptian references. It also maintains a staple iconography of satirical prints, treating the excesses of fashion.

On the left, the woman is virtually mummified in her white dress decorated with crocodiles. Opposite her, the man’s costume is even more extravagant, consisting of crocodile skin coat, waistcoat and reptilian boots. His hat also sports a bright yellow crocodile. They stare at each other in mutual astonishment at the other’s appearance. To complete the topical references, and by way of explanation of the outfits, both wear hats with the motto ‘Nelson and Victory’."

sailor carrying hammock'Bray Album: A Sailor bringing up his hammock,
Pallas, Jany 75' by Gabriel Bray 1775.
"In 1991 the Museum acquired a group of drawings by Gabriel Bray (1750-1823), the second lieutenant on HMS 'Pallas' during a voyage to the coast of West Africa and the West Indies, 1774-75, under Captain the Hon. William Cornwallis. The drawings are remarkable because they show aspects of everyday life on board a Royal Navy ship during the 1770s, the decade of Captain Cook's three voyages.

The drawings are rare if not unique in showing sailors and marines about their daily duties - in this a example a sailor carrying his hammock. This drawing, or one like it, is also shown being inspected in Bray's sketchbook by James Cornwallis - a relative of the captain's who was also on the voyage - in a portrait drawing of him from the same group."
sketch alleged invasion craft 18th century
'A Correct Plan and Elevation of the Famous French Raft
constructed on purpose for the Invasion of England and
intended to carry 30000 men, Ammunition stores &c &c.
Engraved from a Drawing made by an Officer at Brest and
now in Possession of the Publisher' {British School, 18th cent.}
"Early in 1798 there were reports of a planned French invasion of the southern English coast, with the build-up of troops in the northern French ports. On the French side there was a belief that their invading army would be broadly welcomed by the majority of ordinary British people.

By contrast, across the Channel fears of an invasion induced the promulgation of a fable about an enormous raft that the French were supposedly constructing in order to transport huge numbers of French soldiers to England. Several prints, of which this is an example, were produced claiming to be based on eyewitness accounts or other authentic information. They vary in the raft’s reported carrying capacity, most claiming that 60,000 troops could be transported.

This print, which shows the raft as the impossible product of severe rational geometry, combined with the fantasies of Baron Münchhausen and Noah’s Ark, claims just 30,000 capacity. It is difficult to know how seriously prints such as this were intended to be taken. While there was genuinely founded fear of invasion, there was also widespread ridicule of the idea of a raft, including a theatrical afterpiece on the subject. J. C. Cross’s ‘The Raft, or both Sides of the Water’ had its first performance at Covent Garden on 31 March 1798, with the predictable denouement of the raft being blown up."
sketch alleged invasion raft 18th century'A new Machine (or Raft) to cover (or protect)
the Landing of the French on their intended
Invasion of England etc' by William Winton 1798.
"This is another variation on the supposed raft being built by the French for the invasion of Britain in early 1798. Unlike other prints produced during this wave of paranoia in London, which represent the vessel as an excessively fantastic contraption more appropriate to the tales of Baron Münchhausen, this print pares it down to a severe geometric symmetry to assert its claim to being based in fact. Indeed, a greater air of authority is lent by the claim that the engraving is made after an original drawing by a French prisoner of war, and by the wealth of statistical detail in the caption. The machine is described as:

‘Flat; 2,100 Feet long, and 1,500 Feet broad; has 500 Cannon round it, 36 and 48 Pounders; at each end is two Wind Mills, which turns Wheels in the Water at every point of the Wind to Navigate; in the middle is a Fort enclosing Mortars, Perriers, &c. It carries 60,000 Men, Cavalry, Infantry, and Artillery.’

Nonetheless, this does not disguise the unseaworthiness of the ‘new machine’, and neither is there any firm evidence that such a vessel was being constructed on the north French coast at this time."
sketch alleged invasion machine 18th century'An Accurate Representation of the Floating Machine Invented
by the French for Invading England and acts on the principals
of both Wind and Water Mills etc' by Freville; Deighton c.1805.
"Another print responding to the invasion scare of early 1798 and the rumours of an enormous raft that the French were supposedly constructing on the Channel coast in order to land vast numbers of troops. Here it is claimed that the vessel could carry 60,000 troops, though it is difficult to see how it could be believed that such a bizarre, Heath Robinson contraption as this could ever put to sea. Combining wind and watermills, with an enormous ‘Gothic’, Bastille-like tower and castle in the centre, it seems to recall contemporary fantasies about the appearance of the Ark."

The UK National Maritime Museum has about 1000 images available from their 'Prints, Drawings and Watercolours' collection.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Wainwright Lithograph Collection of Philadelphia

Roper's Gymnasium'Roper's Gymnasium.
274 Market Street, Philadelphia. [E. W. Clay].
(Philadelphia: From Childs & Inman's Press, ca. 1831.)'

Panorama of Philadelphia from the State House Steeple 1838'Panorama of Philadelphia from the State House Steeple. East.
Drawn from nature and on stone by J. C. Wild.
(Philadelphia: Lith. of Wild & Chevalier No. 72 Dock St., c1838.)'

Philadelphia, from the State House steeple 1849'Philadelphia, from the State House steeple, North, East and South.
Sketched from nature by Joseph Thoma ; Drawn on stone by Leo Elliot ;
N. Friend's Lithc. Offce. 141 Walnut Street ; Printed at T. Sinc. c.1849.'

Railroad Depot at Philadelphia 1832'Railroad Depot at Philadelphia. / [W. L. Breton].
(Philadelphia: [Kennedy & Lucas], 1832).'

Philadelphia horse & buggy bazaar 1848'Philadelphia horse & buggy bazaar,
S. E. Corner of Ninth & George,
bet. Walnut & Chesnut Sts. Philadelphia.
On stone by W. H. Rease No. 17 Sth 5th St. Phila.
(Philadelphia: Printed by F. Kuhl Phil., [April 1848]).'

Two of the killers 1855'Two of the killers.
(Philadelphia: Published by J. Childs, 46 1/2 Walnut St., ca. 1855.).'

Rockhill & Wilson, tailors & clothiers of men & boys wear 1857'Rockhill & Wilson, tailors & clothiers of men & boys wear,
Nos. 205 & 207 Chestnut St & 28 South 6th Street.
Lith. by W. H. Rease, N.E. cor. 4th & Chestnut Sts.
(Philadelphia: Printed by Wagner & McGuigan, 1857).'

Philadelphia Gas Works 1852'Philadelphia Gas Works. From the South West.
John C. Cresson, engineer.
(Philadelphia: Printed by J. T. Bowen, ca. 1852.).'

Joseph Feinour & Son stove store 1845'Joseph Feinour & Son stove store and Joseph Feinhour's tin,
copper brass & iron ware house 213-215 South Front
Street, Philadelphia by W. H. Rease, 17, So. 5th St.
(Printed by Wagner & McGuigan Lithrs. 100 Chesnut St., ca. 1845.).'

Schuyler furnishing undertaker carriages 1848'P. R. Schuyler, furnishing undertaker,
N.E. cor. Beaver & 4th Sts., Philadelphia. N. B. lots for sale
in Monument Cemetery on reasonable terms. Also single interments.
Drawn on stone by W. H. Rease, No. 17, So. 5th. St.
(Philadelphia: Printed by F. Kuhl, ca. 1848.).'

Jenkins & Co. grocery and tea store 1848'J. C. Jenkins & Co. grocery and tea store,
S.W. corner of Chestnut and 12th Streets, Philadelphia
Desnd. & drawn by Ellwood D. Long.
(W. Stott's Lith Press, No. 97, Chesnut above 3rd Sts., ca. 1848.).'

Birdseye view of horizontorium building 1832'Horizontorium.
From the original drawing by Wm. Mason in the possession of
Charles N. Bancker Esqr.; Drawn on stone by J.J. Barker;
[Printed by Childs & Inman]
(Published by R. H. Hobson 147 Chestnut Street, c1832.).'

Pennsylvania Hall burning 1838'Destruction by fire of Pennsylvania Hall, the new building
of the Abolition Society, on the night of 17th May.
[J. C. Wild] (Philadelphia: [J. T. Bowen], 1838).'

'Philadelphia in the Romantic Age of Lithography: An illustrated history of early lithography in Philadelphia with a descriptive list of Philadelphia scenes made by Philadelphia lithographers before 1866' by Nicholas B. Wainwright was a scholarly publication from 1958 and nearly 300 of the illustrations are available at Philadelphia's The Library Company.

I would not have predicted that I would actually go through each of the images, nor find the overall collection particularly fascinating. But:
"In them one sees the appearance of the city in remarkable detail. Since many of the lithographs were made for advertising purposes, there is naturally a fine range of shops, hotels, and industrial establishments. There are also a variety of public buildings and churches, and genre scenes of interest." [Walter Muir Whitehall book review pdf file p.182]
The collection also serves as an exhibition of all manner and style (and quality) of lithographic illustration from the first half of the 19th century; so, despite my not knowing Philadelphia from a bag of wheat, I found this collection to be an absorbing timesink. In some cases further notes about each image can be (convolutedly) found through the wolfPAC database (linked from the main page above).

Sunday, August 27, 2006

China Style 1700

2 chinese women a
2 chinese women b
2 chinese women c
2 chinese women d
2 chinese women e
2 chinese women f
2 chinese men a
2 chinese men b
2 chinese men c
2 chinese men d
2 chinese men e
2 chinese men f
One hundred and three years after the first Jesuit missionary travelled to China, a contingent of scientifically trained Jesuit priests was dispatched by Louis XIV to Peking in 1688. Most famous among them was mathematician Joachim Bouvet (c.1656-c.1732)

Bouvet was well regarded by Emperor Kangxi and he instructed the Court in scientific subjects. Bouvet wrote a number of texts, including a history of Kangxi's reign in which the Emperor was sketched as a benevolent and cosmopolitan ruler - a work that was influential in European understanding of chinese culture.

Bouvet became interested in Court rituals and particularly those that related to the ancient chinese classical text, the I Ching or Book of Changes. In a letter to german mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibnitz, Bouvet described this divinatory work and Leibnitz found support in it for his theories on calculus and binary systems. So inadvertently, Bouvet was partly responsible (ok, it's a stretch) for helping formulate the language by which computers operate today.

Bouvet is also remembered for his 'figurist' theories, in which works such as the I Ching were said to have been directly related to themes in the bible and kabbalah. Leibnitz was smitten with the chinese work..

"And thus, as far as I understand, I think the substance of the ancient theology of the Chinese is intact and, purged of additional errors, can be harnessed to the great truths of the Christian religion. Fohi, the most ancient prince and philosopher of the Chinese, had understood the origin of things from unity and nothing, i.e. his mysterious figures reveal something of an analogy to Creation, containing the binary arithmetic (and yet hinting at greater things) that I rediscovered after so many thousands of years, where all numbers are written by only two notations, 0 and 1."
None of this of course relates to the above hand coloured engravings which come from Bouvet's 1697 book, 'L'Estat Present De La Chine, En Figures'. I think there are about 60 illustrations in the text which is online at Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek.

Unless you have a specific interest or you want higher resolution images (but click the above images for much larger versions anyway) I wouldn't bother with the website - each image is from 1.5-3Mb in size. But as I found out after downloading, cropping, background cleaning and splicing all the examples above, there is a thumbnail page available. Still, it's a pain either way. {If there's any trouble with those links because of session timing it may require searching for 'Bouvet' - click 'Vorschau' for thumbnails}

Creative Commons License