Below is a sampling of our natural history inventory. Created between the 18th and 20th century, and published across Europe and in early publishing houses of the United States, these prints offer brilliant insight into the scientific dialogue of the past. Early scientists and naturalists would accompany explorers in their travels to newly discovered or conquered lands, recording plants and animals in detailed sketchbooks. Once home, these written descriptions and pencil sketches were put to the engraving plate and lithographic stone, and published in various compendiums of natural history, for wealthy patrons and a fledgling zoology community. Although printed initially for scientific purposes, as more artists became involved and printing technologies improved, natural history prints were collected and celebrated for their beauty and the finesse in which engravers merged science with art. With their alluring geometric patterns and arabesque forms, some of the most accurate and fascinating illustrations of the period were of frogs, snakes, and lizards. To see more reptile and amphibian prints from our inventory, click here.
Bufo Vulgaris. Bufo Calamita. Lithograph by Zanetti after Petrus Quattrocchi. From Iconographi della Fauna Italica by Carlo L. Principe Bonaparte. Published by Tipographia Salviucci, Rome, 1832-41. Highly detailed illustrations of three toads, one poisonous. LINK.
Flying Dragon. Designed and engraved by William Daniell for his work “Interesting Selections from Animated Nature.” Published by Cadell & Davies, London. Aquatint engraving, 1807. From the deluxe edition on large paper with the engravings executed on chine colle. LINK.
Untitled Snake, Tab. LVIII. By Albertus Seba. Hand-colored copper plate engraving, 1734-65. Published in Amsterdam. From “Locupletissimi Rerum Naturalium Thesauri Accurata Descripto Et Iconibus Artificiosissmis Expressio…” LINK.
No. 412. By F. P. Nodder. Engraving with original hand-color, 1799. Two salamanders from George Shaw’s “The Naturalist’s Miscellany”, published from 1790 to 1813. LINK.
Anguis niger, maculis rubris & luteis eleganter varius: The Bead Snake; Convolvulus Radice tuberoso esculento: The Virginian Potato. By Mark Catesby. Hand-colored engraving, 1800. T. 60. From, ‘The Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands: Containing Figures of Birds, Beasts, Fishes, Serpents, Insects and Plants:…’ Engravings by Mark Catesby, published in London. LINK.
The Black Iguana. By P. J. Smit. Chromolithograph, 1904. Published in Saalfield, New York. From “Library of Natural History” by Richard Lydekker. LINK.
American Frogs and Toads. Lithographed by Julius Bien & Co. Lith. N.Y. Published by Todd, Mead & Co., New York. Chromolithograph, 1902. Several types of frogs and toads are pictured. LINK.
Untitled. XXVII. (Alligator, crocodile and two large lizards). Published by A. Fullarton, London and Edinburgh. Engraving with original hand-color, 1854. A natural history print from Oliver Goldsmith’s “A History of the Earth and Animated Nature.” This edition is distinguished by having the birds and animals displayed in full color against a black-and-white background. LINK.
Coluber Monspessulanus. By Battistelli. Lithograph, hand-colored, 1834. A 19th century lithograph of a snake in full and inset of an aerial depiction of the snake’s head. LINK.
Lacertus Griseus: The Lyon Lizard; Viscum Caryophylloides, foliis longis in apice incisis, floris labello albo trifido, petalis luteis, longis augustissimis. By Mark Catesby. Hand-colored engraving, 1800. T. 68. From, ‘The Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands: Containing Figures of Birds, Beasts, Fishes, Serpents, Insects and Plants:…’ Engravings by Mark Catesby, published in London. LINK.
Untitled Snake, Tab. XLII. By Albertus Seba. Published in Amsterdam. Hand-colored copper plate engraving, 1734-65. From Locupletissimi Rerum Naturalium Thesauri Accurata Descripto Et Iconibus Artificiosissmis Expressio… LINK.