We found, in a Noel 1933 issue of L’Illustration, a lithographically illustrated article concerning a fabulous German collection of butterflies from around the world. The writer was an expert at Paris’ Museum of Natural History, ensconced in the unforgettable Jardin des Plantes on the Eastern fringes of the City’s core.
As you can see from this introductory page, the issues of color and linear design are activated in an overwhelming and yet subtle way.
The variety and beauty of chromatic and formal designs can represent to the alert viewer a dawning of the uncanny riches of that primordiality in relation to which we are not only spectators but also participants.
Here we are given a facsimile of the upsweep of the tropics! The writer’s ulterior motive is to attract funding to assist the Museum’s purchase of this collection, at that point tantalizingly for sale.
If the panel above the one shown here could be described as a “Rhapsody in Blue,” the staging here could be taken as a study in gold. The way in which the ardent collector has arranged his gift affords tracking through the various instances to an effect of an introduction to a kinetic ecology striking forward and finding itself far from science.
Therefore, as we anxiously scan the skies and foliage for a now dwindling Monarch butterfly population, we are not just attending to an insect but to ourselves. (I wonder how many of these glowing instances are still extant today?)