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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/274

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268
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

water-color drawing is about 270 years old, one marvels at its freshness and clear-cut outlines. That it is wonderfully accurate, the present writer, who has devoted considerable study to this fish, can attest.

Along with the preceding lot of drawings in the Royal Library of Berlin is a large number of oil paintings bearing the following title: "Theatrum rerum Naturalium Brasiliæ. (Icones) in 4 Bänden. Libri picturati A. 32-35." The first reference to these in the literature is in an anonymous article, in Neue Zeitungen von Gelehrten Sachen, Erster Theil, No. 4, 1717, bearing the title ". . . Ausser diesen Ost-Indianischen Wereke ist in der Konigl-Bibliotheck auch ein West-Indianisches unter folgenden Titel enthalten, Theatrum rerum naturalium Brasiliæ, imagines, etc." This author notes that these oil paintings are in four bänden and that in the first are 357 fishes, in the second 303 birds, in the third 245 "other animals from men to insects," and in the fourth 555 plants, 1,460 in all. He refers to a smaller collection in water-colors but does not give the number of drawings in it.

In 1785, Boehmer in his "Bibliotheca Historiæ Naturalis," etc., gives a brief abstract of the preceding notice. The next reference is even still more obscure. Lichtenstein tells us that in 1811 Illiger brought these to the attention of the modern scientific world. Just what he did can not be said for in spite of every effort it has been impossible to run down this reference. From this fact we may perhaps judge it of little importance. Last of all Lichtenstein (1814-15) found them and has described them at length. His paper will be referred to later.

There can be no doubt that all these figures were made in Brazil and that Count Maurice brought them back with him in 1644. On his return this illustrious man was received in a manner befitting his distinguished services to the Dutch people and honor after honor was heaped upon him. In 1652 he entered the service of the great Elector of Brandenburg, by whom he was raised to the rank of prince. Between these two illustrious men a strong friendship arose, which was not broken until the death of the prince in 1679 at the age of 76, at which time he was governor of Berlin.

The two sets of drawings of Brazilian objects, from the smaller of which in the meantime the figures for the Natural History of Brazil had been made, were bequeathed by him to the knowledge-fostering Elector. By the latter they were placed in the hands of Dr. Christns Mentzel, the court physician and great favorite of the Elector, who was a skilled linguist, that they might be arranged in order, bound in volumes and preserved in the library of his capital, Berlin.

The oil paintings, which were on separate sheets, were collected by Dr. Mentzel into 4 volumes now labelled "Libri Picturati A. 32-33-34-35," and the sheets were arranged in logical order and accompanied by the Brazilian names and the references to Marcgrave and