The Aurelian: A Natural History of English Moths and Butterflies

Title

The Aurelian: A Natural History of English Moths and Butterflies

Description

The Aurelian: A Natural History of English Moths and Butterflies was created by English entomologist and artist Moses Harris. The book’s title page explains that its pictures were “drawn, engraved and coloured from the natural subjects.” Harris’s hand-coloured engravings are remarkable, and he went on to become known as a colour theorist after publishing a treatise on colour that also features hand-coloured plates.

The frontispiece (the image facing the title page) features a portrait of a man, presumably representing Harris himself, offering us a tray of specimens with his left hand while pointing into a wooded landscape with his right hand. When we follow his gesture, we see the same man engaged in the labour of collecting moths and butterflies. By selecting this image as the frontispiece, Harris seems to emphasize the presence of an expert as a guide. In contrast, photographic collections of scientific specimens often have the effect of effacing the presence of their makers. For example, compare The Aurelian to an entomological album from 1875, Anatomical Illustrations of the Bee

The copy of The Aurelian housed in Bruce Peel Special Collections and featured here is a composite of pages from the first and second editions, published in 1766 and 1778, respectively, and brought together by a previous owner. Subsequent editions were published into the nineteenth century, as can be seen from this full scan of an edition of 1840.

The Aurelian forms part of the Dr Ronald B. Madge Entomology Collection.

People

Moses Harris (creator)

Date

1766
38.6 x 26.0 cm
QL 555 G7 H318 1766 folio

Files

frontis 72dpi.jpg
Plate XIX 72dpi.jpg
Plate XXIII 72dpi.jpg
plate XXIII detail 72dpi.jpg
book in box 72dpi.jpg

Citation

Moses Harris (creator), “The Aurelian: A Natural History of English Moths and Butterflies,” Bruce Peel Special Collections Library Online Exhibits, accessed May 25, 2024, https://omeka.library.ualberta.ca/items/show/3046.

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