A History of Paleontology Illustration
(Life of the Past)
Jane P. Davidson
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Indiana University Press; 1St Edition edition (July 14, 2008)
Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 7 x 0.6 inches
Table of Contents
1. Fossils in Art and Book Illustration in Early Modern Europe p. 1
2. The Late Seventeenth Century and the Eighteenth Century p. 25
3. The Nineteenth Century p. 45
4. The Paleontologist Poses with Fossils p. 97
5. Early Photography in Paleontology, 1840—1931 p. 109
6. The Twentieth Century p. 153
Notes p. 185
Bibliography p. 203
Index p. 215
Reviews from the Publisher
Writing from the perspective of an art historian, Jane P. Davidson traces the history of paleontology illustration from the 15th century to the present. She combines discussions of these images as works of representative art with assessments of the artists. The book covers depictions of fossils, restorations of plants and animals, and ecological restorations in painting, drawing, sculpture, and in display restorations such as dioramas. Although the main subject of the book is scientific illustration, it also delves into "popular" illustrations such as those found in children's textbooks, popular introductions to paleontology and geology, museum and other public displays, and film. Both a history of science and a history of representation, this is a fascinating exploration of the interactions between art and science.
Davidson . . . offers an informative and expert introduction to an interesting intersection of art and science--the illustration of fossils in books from the Renaissance to the present. . . . Eight color plates and many black-and-white illustrations . . . ensure that this will be a useful resource for years to come.
A different perspective than what I hoped for.
July 20, 2008
By eagseags (Bloomfield, NJ)
It is a very heavily illustrated book, and there are some good points about it. You many be interested in artistic conventions of the past, e.g. how in the 1820-1840's, marine reptiles were always shown on land spouting like whales. Also the ability of 19th Century artists to make hand-drawn engravings that look as realistic as photographs is truly amazing.
However, ultimately I was disappointed, probably the first time by any book in the "Life of the Past" series in particular, or of the Indiana University Press in general. Here is why. Quoting from the book jacket: "Writing from the perspecitve of an art historian, Jane P. Davidson traces the history of paleontology illustration from the fifteenth century to the present, combining discussion of these images as works of representative art with candid assessment of the artists."
What I really was hoping for was perspective from a historian of science: why artists depicted fossils the way they did, given the knowledge of the time. Also, I am more interested in recent times (say the past 150 years) when paleontology was a topic of scientific study and not just a collection of curiosities. Charles R. Knight appears in the last half of the last chapter.
However, what you hope to get out of this book may vary from mine.
A cursory view of paleontological illustration.
September 21, 2008
By M. Fredericks
Davidson is Professor of Art History at the University of Nevada, Reno and writes as an art historian there. She traces the history of paleontological illustration from the 15th century to the present. She combines discussions of the images with assessments of the artists. The main subject of the book is scientific illustration, and only delves into "popular" illustrations such as those found in adult & children's textbooks, museum and other public displays, and film. The entire book is a very cursory overview with little detail. The six chapter book covers the entire 20th century in the final chapter which is hardly adequate. Both a history of science and a history of representation, the book starts off well but perhaps should have saved the twentieth century for a second book. If you were new to the subject, this would be a great introduction but I cannot really recommend it for seasoned fans of paleoart!
Woefully poor quality.
October 28, 2008
By Dean A. Mcinerney (Australia)
If you are hoping to obtain a book containing heaps of great illustrations of prehistoric scenes from the 18th and 19th Century, do not buy this book. Whilst the text is fine, but perhaps not amazing, the plates themselves are shocking.
I though that I had bought a cheap Thai mock up.... Maybe I had, but this didn't explain why some pictures were ok and others were horrifying.. Many were photocopy quality, some pictures were so pixelated it was as if they are only 72 dpi, and reproductions from manuscripts were photographed in ordinary rather than scanned.
What a shocker.... very dissapointed....
BARNES & NOBLE.
Indiana University Press