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Darwin's Pictures

Darwin's Pictures: Views of Evolutionary Theory, 1837-1874

Translated by Lori Lantz
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Darwin's Pictures
    Book Description:

    In this first-ever examination of Charles Darwin's sketches, drawings, and illustrations, Julia Voss presents the history of evolutionary theory told in pictures. Darwin had a life-long interest in pictorial representations of nature, sketching out his evolutionary theory and related ideas for over forty years. Voss details the pictorial history of Darwin's theory of evolution, starting with his notebook sketches of 1837 and ending with the illustrations inThe Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals(1872). These images were profoundly significant for Darwin's long-term argument for evolutionary theory; each characterizes a different aspect of his relationship with the visual information and constitutes what can be called an "icon" of evolution. Voss shows how Darwin "thought with his eyes" and how his pictorial representations and the development and popularization of the theory of evolution were vitally interconnected.

    Voss explores four of Darwin's images in depth, and weaves about them a story on the development and presentation of Darwin's theory, in which she also addresses the history of Victorian illustration, the role of images in science, the technologies of production, and the relationship between specimen, words, and images.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-16310-0
    Subjects: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, History of Science & Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. 1-13)

    In July 1871 the English satirical magazineFunpublished a caricature of the theory of evolution and its creator (Figure 1). The man in question—Charles Darwin—was now sixty-two years old and had become famous as the author of one of the most significant books of the nineteenth century. In fact, several of his works are still well known today:Journal of Researches into the Geology and Natural History of the Various Countries Visited by HMS Beagle,written at the age of thirty,On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races...

  5. 1 THE GALÁPAGOS FINCHES: John Gould, Darwin’s Invisible Craftsman, and the Visual Discipline of Ornithology
    (pp. 14-60)

    In October 1836, the research ship H.M.S.Beaglereturned to the port of Falmouth, England. It had sailed the oceans for five years at the behest of the world’s largest colonial power, Great Britain, visiting South America, the Galápagos islands, Tahiti, New Zealand, Australia, Mauritius, and Cape Town. The captain and his crew had spent more than half of this time mapping the coast of South America as well as filling in existing maps more precisely. Outfitted with the most up-to-date technical equipment available, theBeaglehad the primary task of determining the exact longitude of the Brazilian town of...

  6. 2 DARWIN’S DIAGRAMS: Images of the Discovery of Disorder
    (pp. 61-126)

    Until 1859, the year in whichOrigin of Speciesappeared, Darwin worked in two directions simultaneously. Officially, he wrote about his experiences on the voyage, the flora and fauna in theBeagle’s collection, coral reefs, and barnacles—studies frequently exhibiting such an obsession for detail that the writer Edward Bulwer-Lytton caricatured him in one of his novels as Professor Long, an eccentric limpet specialist.¹ But unofficially, he was working on his theory of evolution, a comprehensive system incorporating all his observations—work that later triggered a scientific revolution with consequences well beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries. With the exception of the...

  7. 3 THE PICTURE SERIES: On the Evolution of Imperfection
    (pp. 127-180)

    In 1867, eight years after his evolutionary diagram was published inOrigin of Species,Darwin sat once again at his desk and drew. He developed several pictures at the same time, all displaying his typical awkward artistic style. A few years later, professional artists produced more polished versions of the drawings, which finally appeared as a series of woodcuts inDescent of Man.Darwin prepared these drafts on the same paper he had used during previous years. In the period up to 1859, the identical light-blue surface had repeatedly formed the background on which he spread out the panorama of...

  8. 4 THE LAUGHING MONKEY: The Human Animal
    (pp. 181-248)

    On April 21, 1868, Darwin sketched a family tree in brown ink on a white sheet of paper—a spindly image measuring less than five inches (Figure 54 [Color Plate 4b]). At the bottom of the sheet he noted that it was part of the “primates” family tree—in other words, the division of the animal kingdom to which humans also belong. The image evokes the feeling of being witness to a mighty mental struggle. Deletions and corrections overlap one another; the sketch is composed of multiple layers, the fragments of discarded ideas. In the upper forks of the diagram...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 249-258)

    A book about Darwin’s pictures cannot end without mentioning what they donotshow. Understanding the stages through which a picture passes between sketch and printed illustration allows us to experience Darwin as a strategist—a careful editor whose approach ranged from the fastidious to the tactical. He rigidly oversaw the preparation of all his illustrations, and, as the example of Duchenne’s photographs show, his corrections could even take the form of retouching away original elements. Likewise, his books are full of scattered hints, such as the 1845 claim that “Light will be thrown on the origin of man and...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 259-298)
    (pp. 299-330)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 331-340)