Exhibition | Nepal Natural History Drawings, 1802–03

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on January 8, 2014

As recently posted on the ever-informative C18-L, from the new listserv, HEMPS, History of Early and Modern Plant Sciences (1450–1850) . . .

Nepal Natural History Drawings: Francis Buchanan-Hamilton, 1802–03
Embassy of Nepal, 12A Kensington Palace Gardens, London, 7–24 January 2014

erezThe first natural history collections from Nepal were made by Dr Francis Buchanan (later known as Buchanan-Hamilton) in 1802–03, whilst surgeon-naturalist on the British Mission led by Captain Knox. During his year in the Kathmandu Valley he documented more than a thousand plant species, many of which are now rarely seen. This Scottish ‘father of Nepalese botany’ laid the foundation of botanical knowledge for this Himalayan country, and over 500 new species have been described using his collections.

Buchanan-Hamilton took with him to Nepal a Bengali artist from Calcutta who prepared exquisite coloured watercolour drawings of over a hundred species—27 of which have been selected for this exhibition. On his return to England in 1806, Buchanan-Hamilton gave these drawings, and his other scientific records, to his friend from University days, James Edward Smith, and they have lain virtually unknown in the archives of the Linnean Society of London (which Smith founded) ever since. This exhibition is the first public viewing outside Nepal of Buchanan-Hamilton’s drawings, made by a talented but sadly un-named
Indian artist. Current research is uncovering the scientific and cultural value of these early collections.

Buchanan-Hamilton placed great importance on local names people were using for plants and instructed his Indian pandit, Babu Ramajai Bhattacharji, to record these spoken names and translate them into English. Buchanan-Hamilton frequently used these common names for the new scientific names that he coined and wrote on the drawings—some of these are still in use today. Buchanan-Hamilton is now recognised as the pioneer of biodiversity research in Nepal, but he could not have done this by himself and he needed to collaborate with Nepalese and Indian people. As he was one of the first foreigners to spend any length of time in Nepal, he had an unsurpassed understanding of the people, their cultures and traditions, which later helped underpin the developing relationship between Britain and Nepal. Two centuries on, botanical research continues with British and Nepalese scientists working together on the Flora of Nepal—www.floraofnepal.org. This facsimile exhibition has been produced by the Linnean Society of London and Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, with the support of the Embassy of Nepal and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Admission free: open to the public 7th to 24th January 2014, Monday to Friday, 10am–1pm, 2–4pm, Embassy of Nepal, 12A Kensington Palace Gardens, London, W8 4QU.

Sponsored by Nature & Herbs UK Ltd. Drawings online here»
Contact: Dr Mark Watson, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, m.watson@rbge.org.uk

Exhibition | Medicine and the Eighteenth Century

Posted in exhibitions, on site by Editor on January 8, 2014

As noted by Hélène Bremer, from the Château de Seneffe:

Le XVIIIe et la Médecine
Château de Seneffe, Hainaut, Belgium, 5 October 2013 — 21 April 2014

bannerhumeur (1)L’exposition « Le XVIIIe et la Médecine » sort des sentiers battus par son contenu et son approche scientifique. Elle présente le thème de la médecine non pas uniquement du point de vue purement médical mais bien dans le contexte de la vie de l’époque. En tant que témoins privilégiés- et avec l’apport des instruments scientifiques, d’objets mis en relation avec les thématiques abordées, d’extraits littéraires,…-nous racontons l’existence d’une société en pleine évolution sociologique.

Découvrir ce que signifie la médecine au XVIIIe siècle c’est lever le voile sur différentes pratiques peu conventionnelles, c’est aborder le corps et l’esprit sous différents angles, c’est observer les avancées en la matière qui vont bousculer les tabous et révolutionner les façons de penser et de voir d’une façon plus rationnelle. C’est comme un kaléidoscope de découvertes inattendues et surprenantes. Le XVIIIe avait à cœur de replacer l’homme, en tant qu’être humain, au centre de la société. Les individus sont alors en quête de bien être, comme aujourd’hui. Et depuis, tout continue.


Château de Seneffe
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons, May 2007)

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According to Wikipedia:

In 1758 the ‘Seigneurie de Seneffe’ was bought by Joseph Depestre, a Walloon merchant who earned a fortune by selling goods to the Imperial Austrian troops stationed in the Austrian Netherlands. Depestre’s new status as a wealthy and influential individual was also confirmed by the acquisition of noble titles such as ‘Seigneur de Seneffe’ (Lord of Seneffe) and ‘Count of Turnhout’. The new castle designed by Laurent-Benoît Dewez had to match with Depestre’s new noble status. It was erected between 1763 and 1768 in a novel neoclassical style. When Joseph Depestre died in 1774 the decoration of the château and the embellishment of the park were continued by his widow and his eldest son Joseph II Depestre. . .

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