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Original Drawings of Thomas Nuttall
From the Archives of the Arnold Arboretum

 

Thomas Nuttall, born January 5th 1786 in Yorkshire England, was a pioneer in the field of botany and is noted by fellow botanist Charles Sprague Sargent as "one of the most indefatigable and judicious of the botanists who have studied the North American flora. Among his numerous publications are some of the most valuable contributions in the field of North American botany" (1). Before living and working in America as a botanist and zoologist, Nuttall worked as an apprentice in his family's printing business. In his youth in England, Nuttall spent time with a young botanist named, John Windsor with whom he explored the landscapes of the Craven district in North Yorkshire, helping him to develop an interest in Flora and Geology.

In 1808, Nuttall emigrated to the United States to study its natural history and explore uncharted lands in search of new and exciting botanical discoveries, including species that had been unknown and unnamed as of that time period . He arrived in Philadelphia and through instruction in natural science from mentors like, plant collector William Bartram and Professor Benjamin Smith Barton, he was able to go on collecting trips sponsored by Barton. Soon afterwards, Nuttall became Barton's assistant and was asked to travel to the great plains of the west to collect for two years.

Starting in 1810, Nuttall traveled through Pennsylvania, the great lakes, and Michigan. In 1811 he joined the Astoria Expedition financed by John Jacob Astor and led by William Price Hunt, up through the Missouri River, where he left to collect specimens in Indian territory with John Bradbury and Ramsey Cooks. Finally, Nuttall traveled down to New Orleans, where he sailed back to England due to the war between Great Britain and the United States. Throughout his travels, Nuttall collected many specimens including those that had been previously undescribed species in the science world.

When Nuttall returned to England, he brought the specimens that he collected with him in order to organize and analyze them. He also donated some to the Liverpool Botanic Garden and the Liverpool Museum. In 1815, Nuttall retured to Philadelphia and continued collecting specimens, eventually publishing his first work, Genera of North American Plants in 1818. Nuttall then continued traveling south collecting more specimens throughout Arkansas and what is now Oklahoma, after which he returned to Philadelphia and published the Journal of Travels into the Arkansas Territory During the Year 1819 in 1821. In 1822, Nuttall was appointed the curator of the Botanic Garden in Cambridge, MA. and became an instructor in Natural History and Botany at Harvard College in 1823. In 1834, he resigned from Harvard to join Nathaniel Wyeth on an expedition into the Oregon Territories, Wyoming, Utah and the Columbia River. From there, Nuttall would eventually sail across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii to collect specimens there, and on his way back, stopped in California to collect in Monterey, Santa Barbara and San Diego.

In 1836, he sailed back to Philadelphia and took a post at the Academy of Natural Sciences until 1841. During his time there, he made contributions to the Academy's journals and to John Torrey and Asa Gray's Flora of North America. In 1841, Nuttall completed his additions for Michaux's North American Sylva, which included supplemental text. Also included in the Sylva, were drawings for lithographic plantes that were created under Nuttall's supervision. Some of these plates were drawn by William Gambel, who traveled with and collected plants for Nutall in North Carolina, New Mexico and California from 1838-1842 and also was an avid collector of birds, even naming a woodpecker after Nuttall (Picoides nutalli)- or Nuttall's Woodpecker. Unfortunately, in 1842 Nuttall was forced to leave America due to the sudden death of his uncle, who in his will stated that Nuttall was to spend at least nine months of each year in England. Nuttall would make only one more trip to America in 1847-1848. During this trip he met with the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia and also visited Boston, South Carolina and Washington D.C. He also brought plant specimens back to England on his return.

In England, Nuttall continued pursuing his interests in botany, and often met with botanists such as Dr. William Jackson Hooker to discuss specimens. He also continued to visit herbariums, and donate specimens to fellow botanists and British botanical gardens. Nuttall also started dedicating his time to horticulture, taking a special interest in growing orchids and worked on pursuing his interests in studying fossils and minerals. In 1849, Nuttall's nephew Jonas Booth who was interested in exploring the world in pursuit of collecting plants, traveled to India under the help of Nuttall and Dr. Hooker. The intention of his trip was to collect orchids and rhododendrons and to observe and take notes of India's landscapes. Booth sent Nuttall seeds, dried specimens, and live orchids and also brought back specimens on his return, such as new species of rhododendrons which Nuttall planted and grew in his greenhouses. Nuttall also wrote descriptions of these new species for publication, consulting with Dr. Hooker in the process. Nuttall continued to tend for and occassionally send the Asian plants he had been growing to Dr. Hooker, before succumbing to his death in September of 1859 of chronic bronchitis. After Nuttall's death, many of his personal items were bequeated to his nephew Jonas. In 1860, his collection of minerals were sold at auction in London, and his herbarium consisting of 5759 species was sold to the Banksian Department of the British Museum (2).

About the Collection:
This collection contains 58 plates, numbered 1-108 of Nuttall's original botanical drawings for the North American Sylva volumes 1-3 (1853), 4-5(1857), 4-5 (1859) and 4-5 (1865). Some of the plates were drawn by Gambel, made evident by his signature on a few of the original drawings as well as in the published versions. Some of the published drawings were completed by J.B. Butler, J.T. French, E.D. Long, G. West, J. Worley and J. Magee and vary from the original plates in color and technique by artist. Each plate contains instructions on how to complete or improve drawings, mostly through the suggestion of the addition and or subtraction of color.

References:
1. Jeannette E. Graustein, Thomas Nuttall, naturalist: Explorations in America, 1808-1841. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1967), 400 .
2. Graustein, p.397

 


Plate 24: American Mangle
Rhizophora americana


Plate 38: Osage Orange
Maclura aurantiaca


Plate 52: Jamaica Dogwood
Piscidia erythrina


Plate 25: Florida Guava
Psidium buxifolium


Original Drawings of Thomas Nuttall

 

Plate 1: Oak (Quercus garyana)
Color: None
Notes: Arnold Arboretum embossment on the bottom right corner of the plate.

Plate 2: Holly Leaved Oak (Quercus agrifolia)
Chêne à feuilles de House
Color: Partially colored
Notes: Signed by W.Gamble

Plate 3: Rocky Mountain Oak (Quercus undulata)
Chêne ondulé
Color: Partially colored and partially shaded in pencil.

Plate 5(bis): Lea's Oak (Quercus leana)
Color: Colored with the addition of a light pencil outline of a leaf.
Notes: Partial tear on the right side.

Plate 6: Dwarf Chestnut (Castanea alinifolia)
Color: Partially colored and partially shaded in pencil.

Plate 7: Western Birch (Betula occidentalis)
Color: Partially colored and partially shaded in pencil.

Plate 8: Oval Leaved Birch (Betula rhombifolia)
Color: Partially colored and partially shaded in pencil.

Plate 9: Oregon Alder (Alnus oregona)
Color: Partially colored and partially outlined in pencil.

Plate 10: Thin Leaved Alder (Alnus tenuifolia)
Color: Fully colored.

Plate 10 (bis): Sea-Side Alder (Alnus maritima)
Color: Partially colored and partially outlined in pencil.

Plate 12: Thomas' Elm (Ulmus racemosa)
Color: Partially colored and partially outlined in pencil.

Plate 13: Small Fruited Hickory (Carya microcarpa)
Color: Partially colored and partially shaded in pencil.

Plate 14: Indorous Candle Tree (Myrica inodora)
Color: Partially colored and partially shaded in pencil.

Plate 15: Button Wood (Platanus racemosa)
Color: Partially colored and partially shaded in pencil.

Plate 16: Narrow Leaved Balsam Poplar (populus angustifolia)
Peuplier à feuilles étroites
Color: Partially colored and partially shaded in pencil.

Plate 17: Long Leaved Willow (Salix speciosa)
Color: Partially colored and partially outlined in ink.

Plate 18: Long Leaved Bay Willow (Salix pentandra var. caudata
Color: Partially colored and partially outlined in pencil.

Plate 19: 1. Western Yellow Willow (Salix lutea)
2. Minute Willow (Salix nivalis)
Color: Partially colored and partially outlined in pencil and ink.

Plate 20: Silver Leaved Willow (Salix argophylla)
Color: Partially colored and partially outlined in pencil.

Plate 21: Dusky Willow (Salix melanopsis)
Color: Partially colored and partially outlined in pencil.

Plate 22: Californian Bay Tree (Dracophyllum pauciflorum)
Color: Partially colored and partially shaded in pencil.

Plate 23: Large Leaved Linden (Tilia heterophylla)
Color: Partially colored and partially shaded in pencil.

Plate 24: American Mangle (Rhizophora americana)
Color: Partially colored and partially shaded in pencil.

Plate 25: Florida Guava (Psidium buxifolium)
Color: Fully colored.

Plate 26: Forked Calyptranthes (Calyptranthes chytraculia)
Color: Partially colored and partially outlined in pencil.

Plate 27: Tall Eugenia (Eugenia procera)
Color: Partially colored and partially outlined in pencil.

Plate 29: Box Leaved Eugenia (Eugenia buxifolia)
Color: Partially colored and partially outlined in pencil.

Plate 32: Indian Almond (Terminalia catappa)
Color: Partially colored and partially shaded in pencil.

Plate 33: Button Tree (Conocarpus erecta)
Color: Partially colored and partially outlined and shaded in pencil.

Plate 34: White Mangrove (Languncularia racemosa)
Color: Partially colored and partially outlined in pencil.

Plate 36: Mountain Plum (Ximenia americana)
Color: Partially colored and partially outlined in pencil.

Plate 37: Osage Orange (Maclura aurantiaca)
Color: Partially colored and partially shaded in pencil.

Plate 38: Osage Orange (Maclura aurantiaca)
Color: Fully colored.
Notes: Plate 38 contains a drawing of only the fruit and seeds.
The back of this plate contains a drawing of a light pencil sketch of tress and houses.

Plate 39: Small Leaved Nettle Tree (Celtis longifolia)
Color: Partially colored and partially outlined in pencil.

Plate 40: Long Leaved Nettle Tree (Celtis longifolia)
Color: Partially colored and partially outlined in pencil.

Plate 41: Cherry Fig Tree (Ficus pedunaculata)
Color: Partially colored and partially outlined in pencil.

Plate 42: Short Leaved Fig Tree (Ficus brevifolia)
Color: Partially colored and partially outlined in pencil.

Plate 43: Small Fruited Fig Tree (Ficus aurea)
Color: Partially colored and partially outlined in pencil.

Plate 45: Lance Leaved Hawthorn (Crataegus arborescens)
Color: Partially colored and partially outlined in pencil.

Plate 46: Soft Leaved Cherry (Cerasus mollis)
Color: Partially colored and partially outlined in pencil.

Plate 47: Holly Leaved Cherry (Cerasus ilicifolia)
Color: Partially colored and partially outlined in pencil.

Plate 50: American Mountain Ash (Pyrus americana)
Color: Partially colored and partially outlined in pencil.

Plate 52: Jamaica Dogwood (Piscidia erythrina)
Color: Partially colored and partially outlined in pencil.

Plate 53: Broad Podded Acacia (Acacia latisiliqua)
Color: Partially colored and partially outlined in pencil.

Plate 54: Blunt Leaved Inga (Inga unguis-cati)
Color: Partially colored and partially outlined in pencil.

Plate 55: Guadalupe Inga (Inga guadalupensis)
Color: Partially colored and partially outlined in pencil.

Plate 56: Jamaica Box-Wood (Schoeffera buxifolia)
Color: Partially colored and partially outlined in pencil.

Plate 57: Tree Ceanothus (Ceanothus thyrsiflorus)
Color: Partially colored, partially shaded in pencil and partially outlined in ink.

Plate 58: Snake Wood (Colubrina americana)
Color: Partially colored and partially shaded in pencil.

Plate 59: Carolina Buckthorn (Rhamnus carolinianus)
Color: Partially colored and partially shaded in pencil.

Plate 60: Manchineel (Hippomane mancinella)
Color: Partially colored and partially shaded in pencil.

Plate 61: Shining Leaves Poison Wood (Execaria lucida)
Color: Partially colored and partially shaded in pencil.

Plate 62: Tallow Tree (Stillingia sebifera)
Color: Partially colored and partially shaded in pencil.

Plate 67: Large Leaved Maple (Acer macrophyllum)
Color: Mostly colored with some pencil outline in the bottom righthand corner.

Plate 69: Mountain Sugar Maple (Acer grandidentatum)
Color: Partially colored and partially shaded in pencil.

Plate 100: Small Leaved Ash (Fraxinus Pauciflorus)
Color: Partially colored and partially shaded in pencil.

Plate 108: Western Yew (Taxus accidentalis)
Color: Partially colored and partially outlined in pencil.

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Last updated January 2011
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