University of Tasmania
whole_HansenAnita2007_thesis.pdf (108.32 MB)

The illustrations and work of William Archer

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posted on 2023-05-26, 22:01 authored by Hansen, A
In 2003 the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) received a donation of 33 botanical illustrations of Tasmanian native orchids from the Lorimer family. These illustrations created in the 1840s, 50s and 60s were by Tasmanian-born artist William Archer (1847-1874). Archer was prominent in many fields of early Tasmanian and Australian history. As a politician he was a member of Tasmania's first freely-elected Parliament. It is as an architect that Archer has been known in the past, designing some of Tasmania's landmark buildings. He was a member of arguably one of the greatest landholding dynasties in Tasmania. Archer's botanical as well as artistic input to what has been called the most important publication on Australian flora, Joseph Dalton Hooker's Flora Tasmaniae, has not been fully recognised to date. The thesis shows that Archer's contribution to the science of this book is not only worthy of his already recognised status as the first Australian born botanical artist, but that he should also be recognized as one of the great early pioneers of Australian botany and herbarium collectors. The thesis investigates the TMAG illustrations and a previously unpublished collection of a further 36 Archer orchid illustrations held by the Linnean Society in London. It compares them with the orchid plates in Flora Tasmaniae which were based on many of these illustrations. The thesis argues that the small changes made by Walter Hood Fitch (the lithographer) are in some cases significant and impact upon our understanding of the morphology of the plant. Archer went to England in 1857 to work with J D Hooker on Flora Tasmaniae. This thesis proves that Hooker acknowledged Archer's significant botanical contribution throughout the text of the publication, citing the many cases where it was Archer's advice and knowledge that he relied upon for the identification and classification of species. The thesis also shows that Archer had assembled a herbarium of great scientific importance that Hooker again relied upon, and that he allowed Archer access to the herbarium at Kew to add to his herbarium. This herbarium was eventually lost to Tasmania when it was purchased by Hooker after Archer's death and amalgamated it into the Kew Herbarium. Archer was a life member of the Linnean Society of London, and a Member of the Royal Society of Tasmania since 1847. He became Secretary of the Royal Society of Tasmania in 1861. He wrote and presented a number of scientific papers to the Society. Archer was the only Australian plant collector of Hooker's who went on to study and illustrate the specimens he was collecting instead of merely sending them to England for the English scientists to work on. The thesis acknowledges the other aspects of Archer's life, but is the first comprehensive study of Archer's role in nineteenth century Australian botany and botanical illustration.


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Copyright 2007 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (MFA)--University of Tasmania, 2007. Includes bibliographical references

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