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Journal Articles Arts et sciences Year : 2020

Charles-Alexandre Lesueur in Philadelphia: His Remarkable Contributions to Natural History and Scientific Illustration

Charles-Alexandre Lesueur à Philadelphie : ses contributions remarquables à l’histoire naturelle et à l’illustration scientifique

John Dolan

Abstract

Here the nearly forgotten contributions of Charles-Alexandre Lesueur (1778-1846) to natural history during his stay in Philadelphia are reviewed. He was a self-taught artist and naturalist whose first occupation was that of an illustrator working for Nicolas Baudin, the commander of a Napoleonic expedition to explore the Austral regions in the early 1800’s. Through his work with the naturalist François Péron, both during and after the expedition, he became a reputed naturalist in his own right. Following the demise of Péron, Lesueur traveled to America in 1815 as an assistant for William MacLure, a geological explorer and philanthropist. Although his contract was for but two years, Lesueur resided in North America from 1816 to 1837. He first lived in Philadelphia, from 1816 to 1825, and there he made his critical contributions to the establishment of the one of the first and major societies of natural history in America and its journal, the Journal of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. During this time, Lesueur published on a wide variety of taxa, created important contacts for the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia with renowned French naturalists, provided illustrations for other naturalists, and even aided in the printing of the journal. Although Lesueur is recognized as one of the key figures of science in 19th century America, his American scientific work is actually little known. This illustrated essay is an effort to shine a light on his neglected natural history work and his striking scientific illustrations from his time in Philadelphia.
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hal-02923699 , version 1 (27-08-2020)

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John Dolan. Charles-Alexandre Lesueur in Philadelphia: His Remarkable Contributions to Natural History and Scientific Illustration. Arts et sciences , 2020, 4 (3), ⟨10.21494/ISTE.OP.2020.0550⟩. ⟨hal-02923699⟩
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