Thursday, March 13, 2014

Zoological Atlas

'Atlas de Zoologie : ou Collection de 100 Planches' by Paul Gervais (1844) is a supplementary volume of illustrations, originally produced for a large French series on zoology published between 1816 and 1830. The original series featured 60 written volumes and another 10 or so volumes of illustration plates. The series title: 'Dictionnaire des sciences naturelles, dans lequel on traite méthodiquement des différens êtres de la nature, considérés soit en eux-mêmes, d'après l'état actuel de nos connaissances, soit relativement à l'utilité qu'en peuvent retirer la médecine, l'agriculture, le commerce et les artes...'.

{mouse-over for plate titles; all illustrations have been lightly background cleaned}

5. CIDARITE porc-epic 5.a. Une des longues epines du meme gros 6. C. diademe 6.a. Base de l'epine gros 6.b. Tubercule mamelonne gross 7. C. rayonne

1. ECHINOMETRE artichaut. 1.a. Le meme depouille 2. OURSIN pustuleux. 2.a. orifice des ovaires 3. OUR. melon de mer. 3.a. orif. des ov'es 3.b. portion du tet d'epouille montrant les ambulacres grossi


described in 1840s as Actinozoa (obsolescent term)




molluscs - gastropods or snails

6-legged insects

spider species

head of dodo

bird with elaborate head plumage display

bird of paradise with beautiful neck colouring


Cuscus species climbing on tree branch

shrew + numbat

koala + Tasmanian devil illustrations

large eared dog species and hyena

Paul Gervais (1816-1879) began his education in general science and medicine before specialising in palaeontology at the French Museum of Natural History in the 1830s. Soon after, Gervais was appointed to the Chair (later Dean) of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy in Montpelier in Southern France and later held professorships at the Sorbonne and the Museum of Natural History in Paris. Gervais published widely across palaeontological-related subjects including a noted supplement on French zoology/palaeontology for a series by renowned naturalist, Georges Cuvier. Gervais was one of the earliest scientists to consistently use the term dinosaur.

In a 26-page preview, Gervais provides classification details for all the species illustrated in the 'Atlas de Zoologie' (1844). The beautiful hand-coloured engravings were executed by gifted hands after designs by Prêtre, Meunier and Vaillant. It seems that one of the original editors of the enormous zoology series (1816-1830) died before this particular set of illustrations could be allocated among the supplementary volumes; thus, this later Gervais volume features some of the most curious and unusual species from across the animal world. Of particular note above (to me): dodo, koala, Tasmanian devil and Bird of Paradise.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

I see that Dodo is "Dronte" in French. I wonder if it's an insult in French as in English.

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