Historical Museum of Southern Florida
Illustrating Cuba's Flora and Fauna

Birds and Beasts

From the late seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries, European scientists and artists visited Cuba to illustrate and document the country’s flora and fauna for European audiences. The nineteenth century produced the greatest number of such “scientific illustrations.” By this time, an increasingly educated public had a heightened interest in natural history, and technical improvements in printing processes made it easier and cheaper to publish illustrations. Artists are still producing scientific illustrations of Cuban plants and animals today.

In “scientific”or “natural history” illustrations, each plant or animal species is painted in minute detail. An illustration is made while directly observing an animal or plant, living or dead. Sometimes an image is copied from someone else's illustration, or drawn from memory or the imagination. The primary purpose of the illustration is to achieve scientific accuracy rather than aesthetic appeal.

Birds and Beasts
Bee Hummingbirds | Snake | Trogons | Butterflies | Cuban Emeralds
Online Exhibit
Start | Birds and Beasts | Sea Creatures | Plagiarized Prints | Food and Flowers

Illustrating Cuba’s Flora and Fauna
Online Exhibition | Exhibition Catalog

Historical Museum of Southern Florida
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