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Green, James (Zoological Artist)

Sciagraphs of British batrachians and reptiles.

Additional Title(s):

British batrachians and reptiles

Wallington, Surrey, 1897.
Physical Description:
13 photographs : albumen prints, on card mounts ; sheets 14.3 x 10 cm, on mounts 16.1 x 11 cm
Rare Books and Manuscripts
QL658.G7 G74 1897
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund
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Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Visual Materials
James Green was a zoological draughtsman and lithographer who specialized in reptiles and amphibians, and had a particular reputation at the British Museum where he was often asked to produce illustrations of specimens in the collections. There are numerous engravings and chromolithographs attributed to him in the Proceedings of the Zoological Society, for example. He had a longstanding relationship with George Albert Boulenger as the main illustrator for Boulenger's publications. James H. Gardiner was trained as a chemist and worked closely with the London chemist, physicist, photographic researcher, and editor William Crookes, whose pioneering research into electricity and expertise in photography brought him just short of discovering x-rays himself before his German rival Roentgen did. Gardiner was Crookes' lab assistant at the time when these x-rays were made.
George Albert Boulenger, was a Belgian-British zoologist known for his expertise in reptiles, amphibians, and fishes. He was First Class Assistant in the Department of Zoology of the British Museum, overseeing the classification of the collection of reptiles, amphibians, and fishes that would later be moved to the Natural History Museum in London. His interest in using x-rays to examine skeletal features of rare specimens without damaging them was apparently the inspiration for Green and Gardiner's collaboration (see: Boulenger, G. A. "1. On Some Little-Known Batrachians from the Caucasus." Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 64, numbers 3 (May 1, 1896): 548-55, 552; Nature, Volume 55, April 8 1897, pages 539). Given his expertise and his relationship to Green it is likely that he worked with Green and Gardiner to select the specimens for their work.
The collaboration that produced the present radiographs, between a zoologist, a physicist/chemist, and an experienced illustrator, as well as their format on cabinet cards, speaks to how a new imaging technique emerging from the electrical physics laboratory was assimilated to the visual conventions of natural history illustration and photographic portraiture.
Description based on an incomplete copy at the Yale Center for British Art (comprises nos. 7, 9, 11). Description also based on a review in Nature, volume 55, April 8, 1897, pages 539-540, where it is cited as: "Sciagraphs of British Batrachians and Reptiles. Thirteen plates mounted, with portfolio. By J. Green and J.H. Gardiner. (Wallington, Surrey, 1897.) With an introduction by G.A. Boulenger, F.R.S." The text of the review in Nature suggests that other species depicted in the series include the smooth snake (Coronella austriaca), crested newt (Triturus cristatus), and natterjack toad (Epidalea calamita).
Each item bears a printed label at the foot of the mount, giving (from top to bottom) the item number, title of the series ("British batrachians and reptiles"), and name of the species depicted.
Series of 13 radiographs, mounted on cabinet cards, depicting British batrachians. The series was produced by James Green and J.H. Gardiner, in collaboration with George Albert Boulenger. The images make use of W.C. Roentgen's discovery of x-rays, which was made public in late 1895. The Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London, November 5, 1896, note: "Messrs. James Green and J.H. Gardiner exhibited a series of sciagraphs of British Batrachians and reptiles in which the details of the skeleton were very sharply defined, and its relation to the external outline well shown. These sciagraphs ... were taken with a Crookes's tube of the ordinary focus pattern actuated by a powerful induction-coil giving 8-in. sparks and the prints in every case were made from untouched negatives."
Subject Terms:
Amphibians -- Great Britain -- Pictorial works.
Edible frog -- Pictorial works.
Lacerta agilis -- Pictorial works.
Lacerta vivipara -- Pictorial works.
Natterjack toad -- Pictorial works.
Reptiles -- Great Britain -- Pictorial works.
Triturus cristatus -- Pictorial works.
Albumen prints.
Radiographs -- 1897.
Gardiner, James H. (Chemist)
Boulenger, George Albert, 1858-1937, writer of introduction.
IIIF Manifest:

  • No. 7. Rana esculenta
  • No. 9. Lacerta vivipara
  • No. 10. Lacerta agilis.

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