Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Marine East Asia

The Chinese Fish Collection is a large set of 19th century watercolour sketches depicting species  from the waterways and seas of China and Japan. 

The illustrations range from the absurd to the accurate and the selection below skews intentionally towards the former. The captions are all taken from the source site.




Exocoetus evolans L [= Exocoetus volitans Linnaeus, 1758]

Exocoetus evolans L [= Exocoetus volitans Linnaeus, 1758



Crayracion hispidus Blkr [= Arothron hispidus (Linnaeus, 1758)]
Crayracion hispidus Blkr [= Arothron hispidus (Linnaeus, 1758)]



Duymeria aurigaria Blkr [= Pteragogus aurigarius (Richardson, 1845)]
Duymeria aurigaria Blkr [= Pteragogus aurigarius (Richardson, 1845)]



Platophrys (Platophrys) pavo blkr [= Rhombus pavo Bleeker, 1855]
Platophrys (Platophrys) pavo blkr [= Rhombus pavo Bleeker, 1855]



Carrasius auratus [Carrasius auratus (Linnaeus, 1758)]
Carrasius auratus [Carrasius auratus (Linnaeus, 1758)]



inktvis Euprimna morsei (Verrill, 1881)
inktvis Euprimna morsei (Verrill, 1881)



Uranoscopus asper Schl [Uranoscopus asper Temminck & Schlegel, 1843]
Uranoscopus asper Schl [Uranoscopus asper Temminck & Schlegel, 1843]



Hemipteronotus pentadactylus (punctulatus) [= Novacula pentadactylus Valenciennes in C&V, 1840]
Hemipteronotus pentadactylus (punctulatus) 
[= Novacula pentadactylus Valenciennes in C&V, 1840



Mastacembelus fasciatus [= Ablennes hians (Valenciennes, 1846)]
Mastacembelus fasciatus [= Ablennes hians (Valenciennes, 1846)]



Blennius ocellaris L. [qstnmrk] [Blennius ocellaris Linnaeus, 1758]
Blennius ocellaris L. [qstnmrk] [Blennius ocellaris Linnaeus, 1758]



Tetraodon ocellatus Osb [Tetraodon ocellatus Linnaeus, 1758] (= bimaculatus Rich.) [Tetraodon bimaculatus Richardson, 1845]
Tetraodon ocellatus Osb [Tetraodon ocellatus Linnaeus, 1758] 
(= bimaculatus Rich.) [Tetraodon bimaculatus Richardson, 1845]



Uranoscopus guttatus Cuv[qstnmrk] [Uranoscopus guttatus Cuvier in C&V, 1829] fig. artificialis
Uranoscopus guttatus Cuv[qstnmrk] [Uranoscopus guttatus Cuvier in C&V, 1829] fig. artificialis



Antennarius marmoratus Gunth [Chironectes marmoratus Lesson (ex Cuvier), 1831]
Antennarius marmoratus Gunth [Chironectes marmoratus Lesson (ex Cuvier), 1831]



Pseudoscarus pyrrostethus Blkr [= Scarus ghobban Forsskål, 1775]
Pseudoscarus pyrrostethus Blkr [= Scarus ghobban Forsskål, 1775]



Trichidion [vrgtkn][vrgtkn] fasciatum Blkr [unknown name]
Trichidion [vrgtkn][vrgtkn] fasciatum Blkr [unknown name]



Trachicephalus uranoscopus (Bloch & Schneider, 1801) - (fig artifice)
Trachicephalus uranoscopus (Bloch & Schneider, 1801) - (fig artifice)


Holland's Groningen University plays host to a unique collection of 19th century watercolour sketches produced somewhere, some time, in the far east of Asia. Two boxes, containing more than 450 drawings, were bequeathed to the University's Natural History Department in about 1870 via the estate of the former Dutch consul in Canton, MJ Senn van Basel (d. 1863).

There is little in the way of background information online relating to this collection (story of this blog's life). It's not known whether the set was commissioned or purchased by van Basel and there's no indication as to the name(s) or origin(s) of the artist(s) involved.

Pencilled notations of the Latin name(?) of the species and what is likely the surname of the person who first described the animal - (eg. Cuvier or Linnaeus etc) - appear on all the sketches, as well as the less formal species names written in Chinese characters. It's quite possible both sets of handwriting were later additions.

But the charm of the series really derives from the stylised and amusing, near-anthropomorphic, representations and vivid colours of the marine animals, rather than in the degree of scientific accuracy. While there was some active prejudice in the selection of the examples above, the bizarre and absurd types certainly outnumber the regular, run of the mill sketches in the collection, that's for sure. And thankful we all are too!

3 comments:

Claudine said...

Vraiment magnifique ! Bon après-midi.

deepsea-creatures said...

This images of sea creatures in very mysterious and interesting. I just was thinking if what other animals is not yet discovered. Its a very fascinating facts. Good job!

Lady Meerkat said...

The flounder and the black and white fish with a paw like fin may make their way into a collage or two of mine. Most likely the flounder. Thanks for the inspiration.

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