Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sabater Pi

"I believe that humanity is on the road to abolishing the mistreatment of animals, but when it finally makes it into legislation, there will not be any animals left in the wild to protect." [Professor Jordi Sabater Pi (1922-2009)]

Sabater Pi was one of the founding fathers of ethology* and primatology in Spain. He was also one of the original pioneers in chimpanzee and gorilla field studies. He lived in Africa for thirty years, and his works, published in a number of popular science books and journals, and his beautiful drawings, give us a profile of this great naturalist. [paraphrased from here]

Cercopitecs i talapoin

giraffe sketches

drawings of primates

sketch of chimp's face

inkwash sketch of chimp's head

drawings of gorillas

drawings of heads of elphants

sketch of heads of monkeys and apes

sketch of Crowned Guenon (ape)

Pi's sketch of 3 ape species

sketch of primate head views

gorilla head sketch

toucan bird head sketches

sketch of cockatoos and elephant

sketch of pelicans

fabric drawing of porcupine

"Born in Barcelona, Jordi Sabater Pi (1922-2009) became a specialist in the study of ethology and anthropology during the period of his life between 1940 and 1969, when he conducted field research in Equatorial Guinea and came to be considered a world authority on the study of primates in their natural habitat, of amphibians and of some African birds.

His discovery of chimpanzee cultures living in the Okorobiko mountains in Equatorial Guinea and their use of sticks to create a basic form of community industry, of the giant frog Conraua goliath in the waterfalls of the river Mbia and of the rare honeyguide bird Melichneutes robustus are some of his more celebrated research accomplishment; and of course he is also known for his work in having brought the albino gorilla known as Snowflake to Barcelona Zoo [see embedded video below].

Upon his return to Barcelona, Sabater Pi read Psychology and from 1977 began to teach at the University of Barcelona, where his research and findings in ethology became nationally acclaimed. Professor Emeritus at the University of Barcelona since 1987, Sabater Pi is also doctor honoris causa by the Autonomous University of Barcelona and the Autonomous University of Madrid, and can count amongst his many honours the Catalan Foundation for Research Prize (1991), the Gold Medal for Scientific Achievement at the Barcelona City Council (1996), the Narcís Monturiol Medal for Scientific and Technological Achievement of the Generalitat of Catalonia (2004) and the Gold Medal of the University of Barcelona (posthumously)." [source]

"The Sabater Pi Collection, located at the Barcelona Science Park, contains documents summarizing the scientific and graphic work of Jordi Sabater Pi, Professor Emeritus at the University of Barcelona.

The collection essentially consists of books and journals on topics related to ethology, primatology and anthropology, although other documents on botany, history, geography and psychology can also be found. In total, The Sabater-Pi Collection includes more than 5,500 handwritten documents comprising numerous letters from Sabater Pi’s scientific correspondence with such figures as James P. Chapin, Arthur Riopelle, Desmond Clark and Harry L. Shapiro, postcards, articles, and texts of various kinds.

The collection is also a homage to Sabater Pi’s accomplishments as a scientist and draughtsman, including more than 2,000 of his splendid drawings, watercolours and sketches of animals in motion, vegetation and portraits of the human face, of which his field notebooks are also full." [source]

Friday, December 17, 2010

Etruscan Mirrors

Etruskische Spiegel by Eduard Gerhard, 1840s d

Etruskische Spiegel by Eduard Gerhard, 1840s f

Etruskische Spiegel by Eduard Gerhard, 1840s e

Etruskische Spiegel by Eduard Gerhard, 1840s p

Etruskische Spiegel by Eduard Gerhard, 1840s o

Etruskische Spiegel by Eduard Gerhard, 1840s

Etruskische Spiegel by Eduard Gerhard, 1840s m

Etruskische Spiegel by Eduard Gerhard, 1840s n

Etruskische Spiegel by Eduard Gerhard, 1840s l

Etruskische Spiegel by Eduard Gerhard, 1840s a

Etruskische Spiegel by Eduard Gerhard, 1840s b

Etruskische Spiegel by Eduard Gerhard, 1840s c

Etruskische Spiegel by Eduard Gerhard, 1840s g

Etruskische Spiegel by Eduard Gerhard, 1840s h

Etruskische Spiegel by Eduard Gerhard, 1840s i

Etruskische Spiegel by Eduard Gerhard, 1840s k

Etruskische Spiegel by Eduard Gerhard, 1840s j

{click through to enlarged versions;
all the images here are cropped from the full page and have been spot-cleaned}

Looking for all the world like a an antiquities-themed Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras* commemorative plate catalogue, this sampling of BC metal designs was, in fact, published in the 1840s (mostly) as part of a 5-volume series on Etruscan hand-mirrors.

'Etruskische Spiegel' is available among the archaeology collection at Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg. Four volumes are accessible and the vast majority of images seen above were obtained from the first two volumes. Click through on a volume 'Bände', then on anything below 'Inhalt' and then on 'Vorschau' for thumbnail views of all the pages.
"Bronze hand mirrors were a characteristic product of the Etruscans. Made throughout the period between the 6th and 1st centuries BC, they provide much information about Etruscan bronze technology and the development of Etruscan art.

They were very often decorated on the backs with scenes from daily life, religion and mythology. Some show stories from Greek mythology, some purely Etruscan, some a mixture of both. The wealth of information they convey makes them a resource comparable to Greek painted vases. Sometimes the names of the figures are inscribed making the mirrors important for knowledge of the Etruscan alphabet and writing. The design varies in quality, but the best are exquisite examples of design and craftsmanship.

The reflecting disc was highly polished to give a sharp, detailed image. Most were slightly concave, so that held at arm’s length much of the upper body would be in view. The alloy was copper with about 7-11% tin and less than 1% lead, resulting in a yellowish metal and, consequently, a yellowish image." [Source]

has some pictures of the actual mirrors.
I'm reminded a little of Flaxman's La Divina Commedia.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Trower Botanical Illustrations

Dipascus sylvestris, Herts. 1904

Dipascus sylvestris, Herts. 1904

Campanula latifolia, Yorkshire, 1906
Campanula latifolia, Yorkshire, 1906

Bupleurum rotundiflorum, Essex, 1905
Bupleurum rotundiflorum, Essex, 1905

Brassica napus, 1924
Brassica napus, 1924

Fuschsia riccartoni Hort. County Galway, 1913
Fuschsia riccartoni Hort. County Galway, 1913

Geranium phoeum, Herts. 1905
Geranium phoeum, Herts. 1905

Geranium sangiuneum, Cornwall 1906
Geranium sangiuneum, Cornwall 1906

Impatiens noli-tangere, Cumbria 1911
Impatiens noli-tangere, Cumbria 1911

Juncus balticus 1927
Juncus balticus 1927

Malva moschata, Herts. 1904
Malva moschata, Herts. 1904

Salix fragilis, Herts. 1905
Salix fragilis, Herts. 1905

Saponaria vaccaria, Herts. 1906
Saponaria vaccaria, Herts. 1906

Vicia bithynica 1914
Vicia bithynica 1914

Georgina Trower (1855-1928) produced over eighteen hundred delicate and faithful sketches of (predominantly) British plants in the first couple of decades of the 20th century. She was helped by her sister Alice who wrote to the leading amateur botanist of the day, George Druce, seeking his help in supplying fit specimens for her sister to draw.

Druce apparently proved to be a useful critic of Trower's painting technique and he duly mustered together a large number of specimen contributors (including himself). After the Trower sisters had died in the late 1920s, Truce acquired the collection which he then bequeathed to Oxford University.
"This unusual collection, together with an extensive archive of correspondence, shows how fruitful connections were made between artist and botanist and how serendipity influenced both the choice of species painted and the areas from which these species were collected." [source]
"There were two distinct periods of artistic activity: 1904-1917 and 1921-1928. Excluding Alice's own contribution, 76 people contributed plants for Charlotte to paint. By far the greatest contribution was made by Druce (272 plants). The vast majority of plants are from Britain and the Channel Islands (1747) and 47 are from the island of Ireland. Approximately 1400 taxa are represented in the collection although the collection is biased towards sedges (220 watercolours), daisies (160 watercolours) and beans (101 watercolours). Only two grasses are represented. Trower was awarded the RHS's Grenfell Medal for her sedge watercolours." [source]

The Trower Botanical Illustrations are hosted by Oxford University Herbaria. The web architecture is a little unusual, for reasons that escape me, but not too difficult to navigate. The easiest thing to do is to just put a letter in the search box and species name will automagically appear.

I have scanned through the majority of the database and I would be surprised if all of the Trower watercolour paintings are there. I would have guessed that only half or less of the collection had been so far digitised. [I could be wrong!] Unfortunately, there is only a cursory overview available at the source site and very little commentary anywhere else on the web.

nb. The majority of captions above include "Herts." - this refers to Hertfordshire, the county where the Trower sisters lived.

Source | article abstract | via Institute of Historical Research* *I think*

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