The Royal Society of Tasmania, October 2014. 234 pages, hardcover, 200+ colour illustrations
Science and Art come together in this lavishly-illustrated (over 200 high-quality pictures) book which explores the natural history art to be found in The Royal Society of Tasmania’s Rare Book Collection. The brief of the numerous scientific authors was to view these amazing early volumes and their exquisite illustrations and to consider how important they were to the understanding of their particular group of organisms in early times, and what influence they have had on the science today. The art authors were asked to bring to life the incredible men and women who produced the extraordinary art work that you will find reproduced in this volume. So often their talent and identity is overlooked, yet without them, we would have nothing but verbal description that conveys nothing of the real wonder of the organisms.
The volume starts with an historical overview and is divided into sections on vascular plants, lichens, orchids, crustaceans, insects, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals with introductions from expects in those fields. Artists represented are Sydney Parkinson (1745-1771), James Sowerby (1757-1822), Robert David Fitzgerald (1830-1892), John Curtis (1791-1862), Sarah Stone (c.1761-1844), Elizabeth Gould (1804-1841) John Lewin (1770-1819) and many others.