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The Art and Science of William Bartram Hardcover – May 30, 2007

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Editorial Reviews


“This well-written, accessible, and scholarly book does a splendid job situating William Bartram in the larger context of the Enlightenment, Romanticism, and the rhetoric of European and American natural history.”

—Randall C. Griffin, Southern Methodist University

“More slithering lowlife can be found in Judith Magee’s luminous The Art and Science of William Bartram. Long before Audubon, Bartram wandered through Cherokee outposts and Florida river basins, circa 1776, filling his notebooks with quasi-surrealist renderings of bobolinks and frolicking alligators. Bartram’s pictures are beautifully reproduced in Magee’s volume, and she makes a good case for his scientific expertise. It’s easy to see why Bartram’s idiosyncratic work stoked the feverish fantasies of Coleridge and Wordsworth.”

—Christopher Benfey, Slate's Best books of 2007

“Particularly valuable is the publication, in color, for the first time of all 68 drawings by Bartram held by the Natural History Museum in London as well as natural history illustrations made by Bartram’s contemporaries.”

—P.D. Thomas, Choice

“Using the best sources and nicely placing Bartram in the context of contemporary scientific thought, Magee provides keen insights into Bartram’s life and contributions. Her work advances our understanding of the role of this important figure in the maturation of natural history studies in America and makes clear the continuing significance of his writings and drawings.”

—Lester D. Stephens, Journal of Southern History

“Overall, this book is well worth reading. It is lavishly illustrated, well researched, and evocatively written.”

—Angela L. Todd, Huntia

“Judith Magee, in her handsome book, The Art and Science of William Bartram, gives a delightful overview of Bartram and his contributions to the natural history of his time, especially in his pioneering drawings and watercolors, in which he portrayed behavior, habitat, and the relationships among individual species.”

—Patricia Tyson Stroud, Winterthur Portfolio

About the Author

Judith Magee is Collections Development Manager in the Library of the Natural History Museum, London. She has acted as picture researcher for several publications and has contributed to Plant Discoveries: A Botanist's Voyage Through Plant Exploration (2003) and Great Naturalists (forthcoming).


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Penn State University Press (May 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0271029145
  • ISBN-13: 978-0271029146
  • Product Dimensions: 12.2 x 9.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,703,439 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Charles M. Marsteller on December 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is as near a catalog raisonne one can find on the botanical and other natural history illustrations by William Bartram and some of the other famous naturalists of his day.

This book is also highly regarded by Bartram authorities with whom I am acquainted, and in fact, the book was recommended to me.

Having read it, I recommend it with to you.

The only problem I have with the presentation is that cost-savings were apparently necessary and thumbnails of the various natural history illustrations were used in lieu of full page prints. Nevertheless, these provide a wonderful reference point.

I would also refer the reader to the American Philosophical Societies website as their collection is now on line.
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