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Collections Highlights / Biology / Natural History Illustrations

Natural History Illustrations

'Flora of New York' Illustrations

Botanical illustrations from the 17 volume series 'The Flora of New York'. The collection includes illustrations by notable contemporary illustrators such as Bobbi Angell, Ann Lacy, Bente Starcke King and Ted Baim, (an artist who was associated with the Landis Arboretum for many years.)

DEC Fresh Water Fish Survey Illustrations

During the summers of 1926-1939 the New York State Conservation Department (the precursor of today's Department of Environmental Conservation) conducted a statewide watershed survey of aquatic resources. One of the products of this survey was a series of fish portraits, accurate in detail and artistically compelling. The illustrations, most watercolors done by Ellen Edmonson and Hugh P. Chrisp, were based on specimens caught during the survey and were largely completed in the field. The material is a resource of incalculable value to fisheries biologists, natural historians, biological illustrators and others for a variety of reasons. The portraits provide accurate depictions of the fish, including life colors. They help document the distribution of the species and they are works of incredible precision and beauty. Now housed at the New York State Museum, in agreement with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and the State Archives and Records Administration, these illustrations continue to appear in publications and exhibits.

Fungi: Charles H. Peck

Over 1,000 original illustrations of fungi by Dr. Charles H. Peck depict many of the specimens he collected and named. During his career as State Botanist from 1867 to 1915, Dr. Peck collected thousands of plant and fungi specimens forming the foundation of the Herbarium. He described over 2,000 fungi "types," the irreplaceable standards upon which new species are based and which are used by scientists worldwide to settle questions of identity. Peck worked in the field and laboratory to describe and sketch new and interesting specimens while they were still in fresh condition. These pencil sketches and water color illustration which includes both type and non-type collections are scientifically significant and historically important.

Fungi: Jules H. Marchand

'The Charles H. Peck Testimonial Exhibition' of 57 wax mushroom models were exhibited between 1917 and 1976. Dr. Peck, 1833-1917, was New York's first State Botanist and the best-known expert on American fungi, especially mushrooms. Jules Henri Marchand, the sculptor of these models, was a leading innovator in the science and art of museum display. Born near Paris in 1877, Marchand studied in France's best art schools and also with sculptor Auguste Rodin. He came to America and in 1909 worked for the New York State Museum, which was just under construction. Friends and colleagues commissioned Marchand to sculpt the mushrooms in 1917, but Peck never got to see his testimonial and died just days after it was dedicated.

Fungi: Mary Banning

The extraordinary nineteenth century paintings of mushrooms by Mary Elizabeth Banning (1822-1903) are a blend of science and folk art, scientifically accurate and lovely to look at. Mary Banning was an eccentric and talented mycologist (one who studies fungi) and natural history illustrator active in the second half of the nineteenth century. In 1868 she began to write and illustrate a book on the fungi of Maryland. This project took more than twenty years and resulted in a manuscript of scientific descriptions and amusing stories accompanied by 174 detailed, 13" by 15", watercolor paintings. Among the fungi described in her manuscript are 23 species previously unknown to science and described and published in the "Botanical Gazette" or in Peck's "Annual Report of the New York State Botanist".


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