Cabinet 04 - Butterflies and Moths
The butterflies Ornithoptera priamus (green) and Ornithoptera remus (yellow and grey) are magnificently illustrated in this volume of The Naturalist's Library. Linnaeus's appreciation of the beauty of Ornithoptera priamus, to which he applied the term 'august', is noted in the description of the genus Ornithoptera. Being both rare and beautiful, this butterfly was prized by collectors. Accompanying this item is a copy of Linnaeus's A General System of Nature (1806) open to the pages describing priamus and remus. Butterflies are classified under Lepidoptera papilio.
Sir Charles Linnè, A General System of Nature. Vol. 3. London: Printed for Lackington, Allen & Co., 1806. DeB Eb 1806 L; James Duncan, 'The Natural History of Foreign Butterflies.' Vol. V. The Naturalist's Library. Edinburgh: W. H. Lizars, S. Highley, and W. Curry Jnr, 1837. DeB Sb 1833 N E5
On display are illustrations of the Unicorn Hawk Moth (Sphinx convolvuli), named for the structure of its antennae, and the Swallow-Tail Butterfly (Papilio machaon). The illustrator of these, and of the butterflies Ornithoptera priamus and Ornithoptera remus (also on display), was James Stewart. After printing, each drawing was hand coloured. According to Susan Sheets-Pyenson, many of the colourists were women.