Author Compton, E. H. [Collection of mind-blowing insect-paintings by an artist famous as 'Bergmahler'.]
Published 1906-1960
Item ID 73500
(Excl. 21% VAT)
Germany, unpublished, 1906-1960. Five near uniformly sized sketch books (ca. 22.0 x 17.0 cm), and 28 loose leaves (size 22.5 x 13.5 cm or larger) with fine illustrations of - mainly - insects. Two large ones in uniform wooden frames (oblong, sizes 29.5 x 55.0 cm; 29.5 x 66.2 cm. A truly amazing collection of original watercolour drawings and sketches by the German painter of British descent, Edward Harrison Compton (1881-1960). These are by far the best entomological drawings we ever had. Compton exhibited in galleries in Berlin, Munich, and at the Royal Academy in London (Bénézit). He also provided illustrations for several travel books. Although very well-known for his landscape paintings, this collection shows that he had a profound, longtime interest in insects, and in particular butterflies (Lepidoptera) and grasshoppers (Orthoptera), which he drew in great detail. The many fine pencil and water-colour illustrations show highly enlarged specimens of local (i.e. Central European) often spectacularly coloured species, often with pencilled annotations including scientific names, sexes, collecting dates and localities (true signs of scientific thinking), and morphologically important parts. With several, the magnification - e.g. 27x - is added in pencil. Five sketch books are filled with fine drawings of whole animals and details such as wings, legs, eyes, as well as impressions of their natural colour, and the way light reflects off them. One sketch book includes drawings of bird skulls and seashells (Muricidae, Cassididae and Harpa ), and although very detailed, none are as much enlarged as his butterflies, moths, and grasshoppers. Several pages are filled with drawings of individual butterfly wing scales. It remains unclear what his objectives were: mastering the skill of drawing small objects in great detail, or planning illustrated works? Ever since Rembrandt etched a cone shell, illustrating natural objects, and in particular small animals, has been regarded as an ultimate skill test for illustrators. Few things are more difficult to render in a convincing, natural, yet powerful and impressive way. It is either right, or very wrong. Compton showed his skills here more than in any of his landscapes, where artistic freedom helps to conceal imperfections. Interspersed in the sketch books are drawings of flowers, spiders, diatoms, dragonflies, beetles, and more. One sketch book contains many pencil drawings on loosely inserted tracing paper (total not counted). All drawings in are in an excellent state. Several pages of the sketch books partly clipped - presumably by Compton. Included: an early-19th-century engraving of a grasshopper, apparently used by Colton for comparisons. In all a mind-blowing collection, revealing much about the artist and his great methods, extremely pleasant to the eye, and even of scientific value due to their great accuracy and often added collecting localities, dates and the Latin names of the species. Bénézit 2, p. 599. Utterly stunning original drawings by the GOD of entomological illustration