With the help of Chicago bookmakers, Julie Nagy and Trish Hammer, we have finished our first of four portfolios of Natural History embracing the herbarium metaphor
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Katharine Steidl’s article discussing early photography as botanical illustration addresess the technical accuracy of “contact printing” and it’s increasing popularity during the seaweed and fern-crazed 1830’s.
During the Victorian Era, many women involved themselves in the study of natural history and embraced all aspects of botanical science, including documentation of specimens — what Steidl describes as the feminization of photography. This afforded women a specific role in the scientific community. The practice of contact-printed photographs used as scientific illustration fell out of favor when objects could be photographed with more dimensionality using a camera with lens. By 1839, cameraless photography began to be viewed, like scrapbooking, as a women's hobby -- a technique for passing time, capturing trivial subject matter for amusement.
“Of Green Leaf, Bird, and Flower” highlighted the scientific pursuits of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that resulted in the collecting and cataloging of the natural world, and that informed the aesthetically oriented activities of the self-taught naturalists of the Victorian era, particularly those of women who collected and drew specimens of butterflies, ferns, grasses, feathers, seaweed, and shells, and assembled them into albums and commonplace books.