Friday, December 4, 2015

Charles Darwin on the Deck of the Beagle

Environmental & Science Education

History of Science, Biological Evolution
Edward Hessler

Cartoon of Darwin & Shipmates on The Beagle
Augustus Earle (presumed) - Quarter Deck of a Man of War on Diskivery (sic) or interesting Scenes on an Interesting Voyage
By Augustus EARLE (1793 - 1838) (Britain/Australia)
 (Details of artist on Google Art Project)
[Public domain or Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons

Sotheby's auction house has for sale a cartoon painting of a painting by Augustus Earle, the Beagle's official artist.  "Quarter Deck of a Man of War on Diskivery [sic] of Interesting Scenes on an Interesting Voyage" shows Darwin in top-hat surrounded by shipmates expressing a variety of viewpoints on the collector and the growing collection.

Hannah Furness, Arts Editor, The Telegraph provides the details.

Darwin had at least two nicknames, one is found in the painting. It is the mildly derogatory "Flycatcher." The other used much more often throughout the voyage, "Philos", short for philosopher.

The ask is L 70,000 or in cold, hard U. S. cash, $105220.50.

The Crew members of The Beagle

By Conrad Martens (1834), engraved (1838)
by Thomas Landseer and published in the year by H. Colburn in
The Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of
HMS Adventure and Beagle [Public domain or Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
Jerry Coyne, on his web-site Why Evolution is True, identifies crew members and provides a transcription of what each had to say in the painting's balloons, not all complimentary.  Furness draws attention to the sometimes fractious relationships on board.  You might expect this (and it is not news: see) on a small ship and one whose crew had various agendas: Darwin, "naturalizing," Captain FitzRoy (coastal surveying), officers (attached to the routine of sailing and its traditional rules and mores), and crew (following orders and executing routine duties).  Recall that they were on the Beagle for five years.

Furness includes a beautiful drawing of of the Beagle at sea, stern-on and in full sail.

h/t Why Evolution is True

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