Philip Lutley Sclater, a British ornithologist, was born Nov. 4, 1829. In 1859, Sclater founded the journal Ibis, the first periodical to be devoted exclusively to ornithology. The journal soon distinguished itself, not only by its learned articles (many by Sclater himself), but by the lithographs that appeared in each issue. Sclater commissioned paintings from the very best artists, including Joseph Wolf, who had come to London from Germany and attached himself to the Zoological Society of London, drawing many of their exotic animals, and Paul Louis Oudart, who was a French artist who had travelled around the world on the Uranie before being discovered by Sclater. The images above are all from the first volume of Ibis, and show, in order, a bare-legged screech owl from the Caribbean, drawn by Wolf; a collection of birds eggs from St. Croix, by W.C. Hewitson, and a rose-throated becard, painted by Oudart. The becard is particularly striking in the original, since the hand coloring is so thick that it almost looks like an original painting. The fourth image shows the title-page of the first volume, with the journal’s mascot gracing the woodcut vignette.
If Sclater’s name sounds at all familiar to you, perhaps it is because we featured another aspect of Sclater’s career, his work in biogeography, in this space on June 27, 2014.
Dr. William B. Ashworth, Jr., Consultant for the History of Science, Linda Hall Library and Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Missouri-Kansas City