|UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE LIBRARY|
The great voyages of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries made Europeans aware of the vast variety of animal life in the world. Explorers brought back not only tales of exotic animals but actual specimens. While artists were unable to see these animals as they lived in the wild, they could study their skins or stuffed and preserved bodies.
The explorers of the eighteenth century solved this problem by taking artists with them to sketch and paint from life. The result was realistic works showing animals interacting with their natural environments, but this was a difficult and dangerous job for artists, and many did not survive. These included Sydney Parkinson, the artist who traveled with Captain Cook on his first voyage to the South Seas, who died of a disease contacted in Batavia, Indonesia on the trip back to England.
Captain Dixon's voyages were intended to establish a fur trade in the Northwest region of North America. Dixon also sailed on the third voyage of Captain James Cook, and this later trip was, in part, an attempt to map the area more accurately. The appendix on natural history includes several beautifully drawn engravings.
Le Vaillant, 1753-1824.
Le Vaillant's published accounts of his journeys into the interior of South Africa were the most popular and influential books Europeans read on southern Africa prior to the nineteenth century. An amateur artist, Le Vaillant painted a series of watercolors of the nature and peoples of the area. These became the basis for the engraved plates that were published in the book.
A Narrative of Travels in Northern Africa chronicles an expedition to document the course of the River Niger and to find the location of Timbuktu. Lyon, a naval officer, did not find what he was looking for. However, his personal interest in the customs of the indigenous peoples of the region makes the book and illustrations more interesting than many similar works.
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Last modified: 02/28/07