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A History of Paleontology Illustration (Life of the Past) Hardcover – July 14, 2008


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Product Details

  • Series: Life of the Past
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press; First Edition edition (July 14, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253351758
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253351753
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 7.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,783,372 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"... a welcome addition to the very small field of the history of paleontological illustration. It will be particularly useful as a textbook in a history of paleontology course, where it will serve as an indispensable catalogue of past images, artists, and publications..." —ISIS, 100: 2 (2009)



"... [O]ffers an informative and expert introduction to an interesting intersection of art and science—the illustration of fossils in books from the Renaissance to the present.... Davidson brings together the key figures and themes in this genre and provides basic information on them. Eight color plates and many black-and-white illustrations (especially of 19th- and 20th-century examples), along with a full bibliography, ensure that this will be a useful resource for years to come. Summing Up: Recommended. Researchers/faculty, professionals/practitioners, and general readers." —Choice, February 2009



"A helpful resource for collectors as well as an introduction to an art form that is diminishing in application, if not in appreciation." —M. Thlarn, The Bloomsbury Review, November/December 2008



"This is a well written and researched book which can be read chronologically or as a source of reference." —www.palass.org, February 2009



"The book offers ineresting and well-constructed overviews of the natural history and imagery of birds and fossils." —Mary Parrish, Science Magazine, October 2008

About the Author

Jane P. Davidson is Professor of Art History at the University of Nevada, Reno, and author of The Bone Sharp: The Life of Edward Drinker Cope. She lives in Reno, Nevada.


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By eagseags on July 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is a very heavily illustrated book, and there are some good points about it. You many be interested in artistic conventions of the past, e.g. how in the 1820-1840's, marine reptiles were always shown on land spouting like whales. Also the ability of 19th Century artists to make hand-drawn engravings that look as realistic as photographs is truly amazing.

However, ultimately I was disappointed, probably the first time by any book in the "Life of the Past" series in particular, or of the Indiana University Press in general. Here is why. Quoting from the book jacket: "Writing from the perspecitve of an art historian, Jane P. Davidson traces the history of paleontology illustration from the fifteenth century to the present, combining discussion of these images as works of representative art with candid assessment of the artists."

What I really was hoping for was perspective from a historian of science: why artists depicted fossils the way they did, given the knowledge of the time. Also, I am more interested in recent times (say the past 150 years) when paleontology was a topic of scientific study and not just a collection of curiosities. Charles R. Knight appears in the last half of the last chapter.

However, what you hope to get out of this book may vary from mine.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By M. Fredericks on September 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Davidson is Professor of Art History at the University of Nevada, Reno and writes as an art historian there. She traces the history of paleontological illustration from the 15th century to the present. She combines discussions of the images with assessments of the artists. The main subject of the book is scientific illustration, and only delves into "popular" illustrations such as those found in adult & children's textbooks, museum and other public displays, and film. The entire book is a very cursory overview with little detail. The six chapter book covers the entire 20th century in the final chapter which is hardly adequate. Both a history of science and a history of representation, the book starts off well but perhaps should have saved the twentieth century for a second book. If you were new to the subject, this would be a great introduction but I cannot really recommend it for seasoned fans of paleoart!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Dean A. Mcinerney on October 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
If you are hoping to obtain a book containing heaps of great illustrations of prehistoric scenes from the 18th and 19th Century, do not buy this book. Whilst the text is fine, but perhaps not amazing, the plates themselves are shocking.

I though that I had bought a cheap Thai mock up.... Maybe I had, but this didn't explain why some pictures were ok and others were horrifying.. Many were photocopy quality, some pictures were so pixelated it was as if they are only 72 dpi, and reproductions from manuscripts were photographed in ordinary rather than scanned.

What a shocker.... very dissapointed....
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Fossilarum on March 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The text is fine but the illustrations are appalling. I would not have bought it had I known they were that bad.
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