Fish Treasures of the Ernst Mayr Library

Recently installed in the library was this exhibition showcasing a selection of ichthyological drawings, engravings and manuscripts from Special Collections.  Most famous at the MCZ due to their having been digitized and reproduced in books examining the Thayer Expedition to Brazil (1865-1866) are the watercolors of Jacques Burkhardt, Louis Agassiz’s personal artist whose Brazil work was the highlight of his brief but increasingly respected career.  More information can be found here.

Another fish artist and collector who sought out a connection with the MCZ was Andrew Garrett (1823-1887), a Hawaii sailor who collected thousands of shell and fish specimens and in 1855 wrote to Louis Agassiz offering to supply the Museum with specimens and watercolors.  Some of those drawings in the current exhibit are accompanied by Garrett’s manuscript notes about the specimens.

Also included are early 1830s manuscript drawings by Joseph Dinkel, another artist collaborator of Louis Agassiz’s; a fossil-fish engraving from Agassiz’s Recherches sur les Poissons Fossiles (Neuchatel, 1833-1843); a color plate of a piranha in Marcus Bloch’s Allgemeine Naturgeschichte der Fische (Berlin, 1782-1795); a Clearnose skate engraving in Samuel Garman’s The Plagiostomia : Sharks, Skates, and Rays (Cambridge, Mass., 1913); a brown trout engraving from a Joseph Dinkel drawing in Louis Agassiz’s Histoire Naturelle des Poissons d’Eau Douce de l’Europe Centrale (Neuchatel, 1839-1845); a color plate in James Carson Brevoort’s Notes on Some Figures of Japanese Fish, Taken from Recent Specimens by the Artists of the U.S. Japan Expedition (Washington, D.C., 1856); and anatomical fish illustrations for the scientific papers of Edward Phelps Allis (1911), many of which were discovered in the MCZ’s Romer Library in 1979, as chronicled by Professor George V. Lauder in Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 16 (1981). Professor Lauder, students and museum staff enjoyed refreshments after viewing treasures from the library collections.