Monday, October 19, 2020

Capturing Nature: Early Scientific Photography at the Australian Museum 1857–1893

Finney, Vanessa. 2019. Capturing Nature: Early Scientific Photography at the Australian Museum 1857–1893. NewSouth Publishing, Sydney, viii, 200 p. [ISBN: 9781742236209]

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Capturing Nature:
Early Scientific Photography
at the Australian Museum

Publisher description: In the mid-nineteenth century, scientists around the world were quick to see photography’s huge potential for capturing fleeting moments of life, death, and discovery. At the Australian Museum, curator Gerard Krefft and taxidermist Henry Barnes began to experiment with the revolutionary new art form, preparing and staging their specimens—from whales and giant sunfish to lifelike lyre bird scenes and fossils—and documenting them in thousands of arresting images. Capturing Nature reveals these groundbreaking photographs for the first time, along with the Australian Museum’s urgent quest to become more scientific in its practices.

Herpetological notes: This book contains a wealth of information about Gerard Krefft (1830–1881) who was at the Australian Museum from 1860 to 1874. Krefft had previous experience with photography, which he brought with him to the museum. In addition to the establishment and growth of photography at the museum, the author presents breakout sections of particular interest to herpetologists. One of these sections discusses the use of photography for the illustrations by the Scott sisters in Krefft’s 1869 book, The Snakes of Australia. Another breakout section discusses the type specimen of Crocodylus johnstoni. The book contains a number of photographs of Krefft, including a carte de vista of him with several reptiles. Throughout the book are never before published photographs of Australian fauna, including several reptiles.

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