Miscellaneous Objects as Seen With and Without the Microscope


Miscellaneous Objects as Seen With and Without the Microscope


Miscellaneous Objects as Seen With and Without the Microscope predates the introduction of photography. The visual notes it contains depend entirely on the artist's ability to not only record their observations, but to also remember what was seen through the microscope when they refocused on the page. 

In 1839, William Henry Fox Talbot speculated on the application of photography to the microscope:

The objects which the microscope unfolds to our view, curious and wonderful as they are, are often singularly complicated. The eye, indeed, many comprehend the whole which is presented to it in the field of view; but the powers of the pencil fail to express these minutiae of nature in their innumerable details. What artist could have skill or patience enough to copy them? or granting that he [sic] could do so, must it not be at the expense of much most valuable time, which might be more usefully employed? Contemplating the beautiful picture which the solar microscope produces, the thought struck me, whether it might not be possible to cause that image to impress itself upon the paper, and thus to let Nature substitute her own inimitable pencil, for the imperfect, tedious, and almost hopeless attempt of copying a subject so intricate. (quoted in Goldberg 43)

Compare this example to an album of anatomical illustrations of a bee from 1875, which includes photomicrographs.


creator unknown


15.8 x 9.4 cm
QL 466 M58 1820


plate 3a 72dpi.jpg
Plate 4b 72dpi.jpg
title page A 72dpi.jpg
binding b 72dpi.jpg


creator unknown, “Miscellaneous Objects as Seen With and Without the Microscope,” Bruce Peel Special Collections Library Online Exhibits, accessed June 25, 2024, https://omeka.library.ualberta.ca/items/show/3030.

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