Monday, April 25, 2011

Étienne Léopold Trouvelot and some fantastic lithographs

Bill Ashworth [UMKC Philosophy Department] wrote in his newsletter...

Etienne Trouvelot, a French artist turned American astronomer, died Apr. 22, 1895. Trouvelot came to the U.S. in 1850 and moved to Boston, where he was employed as a nature artist by Louis Agassiz at Harvard. In 1870, Trouvelot bought a small telescope and started drawing astronomical objects. His artwork came to the attention of the director of Harvard College Observatory, and Trouvelot was given access to the 15" refractor that Harvard had acquired from Germany. In 1876, a collection of Trouvelot's lithographs were published in the Annals of the Observatory. Five years later, Trouvelot published much larger versions of these lithographs, which are quite the collector's item. ... Trouvelot then returned to France as (amazingly, since he had no professional qualifications) astronomer to the Meudon Observatory, one of the finest observatories in France. Unfortunately for his American reputation, Trouvelot in his early days in the U.S. had dabbled in silk-worm culture, and he brought back from France another silk-producing caterpillar to see if they could be hybridized with the silkworm. The imports were gypsy moth larvae. Some of the insects escaped from his back yard, and although he tried to alert authorities, nothing was done, until the gypsy moth had spread and become the scourge of the East Coast. Trouvelot is not remembered fondly by those who have had to grapple with this unsightly backyard menace.

Étienne Léopold Trouvelot [Wikipedia]

New York Public Library Digital Gallery

The Trouvelot astronomical drawings manual

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