Westwood's Work

Science proved enormously appealing to the burgeoning middle class in Victorian England. During the nineteenth century, museums, botanical gardens and other scientific exhibitions were created to educate and entertain the general public and to introduce the discoveries of science. Among the sciences, entomology proved an especially popular hobby. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the majority of scientists consisted of amateur scholars who observed and recorded everyday phenomena. These hobbyists often compiled vast private collections of specimens, which they or other scientists would then catalog. Later in the century, amateurs and trained scientists would band together to form scientific societies which served to provide a forum for discussion and debate of current observations and theories. J. O. Westwood belonged to more than twenty-five different international natural history societies by the end of his career. These scientific associations also served as a source of funding by providing awards or medals with monetary prizes and by funding teaching positions or examination posts. In many cases, the societies replaced the private patronage of earlier periods, in which a benefactor supported the amateur scientist; this enabled the scientist to flourish as a professional rather than merely as an amateur.

In many ways, Victorian culture shaped Westwood. Science enjoyed extensive coverage in the popular literature of the period. Scholars of the Victorian era have attributed this popularity to the rapid development of science and technology and the move from rural communities to cities. These changes led the public to romanticize nature and see plants and animals as exotic.

Picture of bug called Coleoptera Edward Donovan, 1768-1837. An Epitome of the Natural History of the Insects of India.
Picture of butterfly Dru Drury, 1725-1803. Illustrations of Exotic Entomology.
Image of insect called "Buprestis Ocellata." Edward Donovan, 1768-1837. Natural History of the Insects of China: The Figures Drawn From Specimens of the Insects.
Insect Drawing Westwood, John Obadiah, 1805-1893. An Introduction to the Modern Classification of Insects; Founded on the Natural Habits and Corresponding Organisation of Different Families.
Insect from the Himalyan Mountains John Forbes Royle, 1799?-1858. Illustrations of the Botany and Other Branches of the Natural History of the Himalayan Mountains, and of the Flora of Cashmere.
Insect, native of India. John Obadiah Westwood, 1805-1893. The Cabinet of Oriental Entomology; Being a Selection of Some of the Rarer and More Beautiful Species of Insects, Natives of India and the Adjacent Islands, the Greater Portion of Which are Now for the First Time Described and Figured.
Catepillar drawing by Moses Harris Harris, Moses, (1731?-1785?). The Aurelian: A Natural History of English Moths and Butterflies, Together With the Plants on Which They Feed. Drawn, Engraved and Coloured from the Natural Objects by Moses Harris. New edition, With Their Systematic Names, Synonyms, and Additional Observations Upon the Habits of the Species Figured by John O. Westwood.
Catepillar drawing by Jacob L'Admiral

L'Admiral, Jacob, 1694-1770.
Naauwkeurige waarneemingen omtrent de veranderingen van veele insekten of gekorvene diertjes, die im omtrent vyftig jaaren, zo in Vrankryk, als in Engeland en Holland by een verzameld, naar 't leven konstig afgetekend, en it 't koper gebragt zyn.

Image of Red British Moth.

 

Humphreys, Henry Noel, (1810-1879) and Westwood, John Obadiah, 1805-1893. British Moths and Their Transformations.

Cove of text called, "The Art of Illumination and Missal Painting."
Humphreys, Henry Noel, (1810-1879). The Art of Illumination and Missal Painting. A Guide to Modern Illuminators; Illustrated by a Series of Specimens, from Richly Illuminated MSS of Various Periods, Accompanied by a Set of Outlines, to be Coloured by the Student According to the Theories Developed in the Work.

 

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