Jacques Burkhardt Scientific Drawings
Born circa 1808, Jacques Burkhardt was Louis Agassiz’s personal and principal artist. Having studied in Munich and Rome, the Swiss painter served as Agassiz’s full-time artist in Neuchatel in the early 1840s. After Agassiz left for America, Burkhardt reunited with him in New York in 1847 and spent most of his career drawing under the MCZ founder’s supervision.

The collection’s 976 scientific drawings consist of 518 watercolor and/or pencil drawings of fishes and miscellaneous vertebrates and invertebrates, together with the original color drawings ultimately adapted on stone by lithographer A. Sonrel (including Burkhardt’s classic turtle series) for Agassiz’s Contributions, and 458 fish watercolors and/or pencil drawings from the Thayer Expedition, most drawn from life (Thayer fish drawings, ARC 209). Most of the scientific drawings include pencilled manuscript annotations, many by Louis Agassiz and Joao Martins da Silva Coutinho, an engineer and naturalist who joined the expedition upon its arrival in Brazil. Agassiz’s anatomical observations illustrate his focus on species differentiation in his study of Brazilian fish distribution.
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