Scientific illustration has been the classic match between art and science for centuries. Even today, scientific illustrators compose accurate depictions of nature, medicine and basic scientific concepts through watercolor, acrylics, ink or oils. Not only do they appeal to the eye, the work must include the correct proportions, colors and anatomical structures as well, says the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators. In fact, dozens of colleges and universities across the country offer scientific illustration programs for students to learn art history, accurate drawing skills and the science behind their subjects, such as botany, zoology and anatomy.
A “golden age” of scientific illustration throughout the 18th century sparked curiosity, exploration and experimentation with the natural world. Take a peek at some of the most detailed, vibrant and popular images from that time, which include animals, flowers, birds and bugs. You may even recognize a name or two.
Top image: Wikimedia Commons
Carolyn Crist is a freelance health and science journalist for regional and national publications. She writes the Escape Artist column for Paste Travel, On the Mind column for Paste Science and Stress Test column for Paste Health.