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.
A History of Paleontology Illustration 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 A History of Paleontology Illustration 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.
"A helpful resource for collectors as well as an introduction to an art form that is diminishing in application, if not in appreciation."
– M. Thlarn, The Bloomsbury Review, November/December 2008
" [...] [O]ffers 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 [...] Davidson brings together the key figures and themes in this genre and provides basic information on them. Eight color plates and many black-and-white illustrations (especially of 19th- and 20th-century examples), along with a full bibliography, ensure that this will be a useful resource for years to come. Summing Up: Recommended. Researchers/faculty, professionals/practitioners, and general readers."
– Choice, February 2009
"The book offers ineresting and well-constructed overviews of the natural history and imagery of birds and fossils."
– Mary Parrish, Science Magazine, October 2008
"This is a well written and researched book which can be read chronologically or as a source of reference."
– www.palass.org, February 2009
" [...] a welcome addition to the very small field of the history of paleontological illustration. It will be particularly useful as a textbook in a history of paleontology course, where it will serve as an indispensable catalogue of past images, artists, and publications [...] "
– ISIS, 100: 2 (2009)
1. Fossils in Art and Book Illustration in Early Modern Europe
2. The Late Seventeenth Century and the Eighteenth Century
3. The Nineteenth Century
4. The Paleontologist Poses with Fossils
5. Early Photography in Paleontology: 1840-1931
6. The Twentieth Century
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Jane P. Davidson is Professor of Art History at the University of Nevada, Reno, and author of The Bone Sharp: The Life of Edward Drinker Cope. She lives in Reno, Nevada.