Art and science are brothers. They have existed alongside each other since our brains were capable of abstract concepts. Cave paintings of animals from, sometimes, 40,000 years ago are not only beautiful decorative and meaningful art pieces but also a way for humans to study and record observations about the natural world.
This is where these two forces connect.
When new discoveries were being made in the ‘era of enlightenment’, many vessels were instructed to seek out new beasts and flora while the men on these years long trips were compensated handsomely by their sponsor country. For a few hundred years between the 1600s and 1900s, many researchers, or naturalists, collected thousands of specimens from the lands so far away from Europe. Famous among these men are Charles Darwin and Ernst Heckle.
However, today I would like to focus on those who not only cataloged the foreign life but did so with colorful and detail-laden passion. These are a few plates, pages, and paintings that make the pre-camera illustrations of the natural world so special.
Oh hey! They’re all royalty free too!
(above): John La Farge (March 31, 1835 – November 14, 1910) was an American painter, muralist, stained glass window maker, decorator, and writer.
Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel (German: [ˈhɛkəl]; 16 February 1834 – 9 August 1919) was a German biologist, naturalist, philosopher, physician, professor, marine biologist, and artist. To anyone unfamiliar with his work: GO LOOK IT UP NOW!
Recueil de Lépidoptères d’Europe, Tome III. (1798)
Otto Müller, (20 June 1833 – 17 July 1887 in Gera) was a German botanist and gardener.
Charles Robert Darwin, (/ˈdɑːrwɪn/; 12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) was an English naturalist, geologist, and biologist, best known for his contributions to the science of evolution. (You should know this guy.) Many more of his drawings are here.