Printed Study of Shells (1)
29" x 25"
Print made after the original illustrated plates published in Samuel Brookes’s An Introduction to the Study of Conchology (1815). As the title suggests, the book is a beginner’s introduction to conchology, a branch of zoology concerned with the study and collection of shells. Brookes intended the text to be accessible to even those who had a rudimentary knowledge of science and natural history. People have been collecting and transporting shells for thousands of years, with archeologists uncovering stone age shell jewelry at a number of archeological sites worldwide. Conchology as an academic pursuit began in the 1700s, and was a popular area of study by the 1800s, made evident by the numerous published shell indexes, scientific papers, and books written in the period. Whether studied intently by scientists, or gathered on a beach by vacationers, shells have always fascinated and intrigued humanity. This print depicts Plate 5 from Brookes’s text, and was acquired in England from W. King Ambler Old Prints and Maps. It features a variety of shells and organisms, including multiple members of the nautilus and conus families. The specimens are arranged in an attractive manner, and seem to have been depicted together purposefully, due to the pleasing colour palette that is shared by the different species. This is one of two prints available; the other print depicts Plate 3 from the same book.
At this time in the United Kingdom, Napoleon’s (1769–1821) forces were defeated in Belgium by the British army at the Battle of Waterloo on June 18, 1815. This brought an end to the twenty-three year long war between the British and France. Napoleon’s reign, as well as France’s widespread domination throughout Europe, also concluded as a result of the battle. Today, the expression that someone has “met his Waterloo” means that the person has suffered a decisive or final setback/defeat.