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Art in Science

The use of Art in Science

While to many they may seem to be quite different subjects, the relationship between art and science started centuries ago. The relationship is an important one; before cameras and computers, before smart phones and apps, how do you think scientists shared information? New discoveries in science were recorded not only in writing, but as illustrations to be studied. Accurate illustrations were necessary to disseminate new information in the time before modern technology, and during a time of intense scientific activity.

Carl Linnaeus classified many species (about 7,700 plant species and 4,400 animal species - all that was known at that time), doing much of this through specimens either sent to him or collected by him. But in some instances this was not possible, and his classification for several species was based on an illustration. A number of these illustrations are classed as 'types' (see 'Lectotype' in the Glossary) and are studied and referred to by scientists to this day. Illustration has played an important role in the history of science. The Linnean Society is uniquely placed in this field, with our amazing collection of hand-painted volumes and manuscript illustrations, situated next to the Royal Academy of Arts on Piccadilly.

Where Science Meets Art