ARTES-CEEH PhD Scholarship Report 2023

Thanks to the generous support of ARTES-CEEH PhD. Scholarship, I conducted my research in London last November and made significant advances in my PhD thesis’s archive work. My Thesis is titled Isidro Gálvez y los dibujos de la Flora peruviana et chilensis, supervised by Dr Ángel Justo Estebaranz at Universidad de Sevilla (Spain). My work studies the figure of Isidro Gálvez, a draughtsman of the Royal Botanic Expedition to Peru and Chile by Hipolito Ruiz and José Pavón (1777-1788). This Expedition produced more than 2.000 botanical drawings, over 700 signed by Gálvez.

At the beginning of 2022, I started my archival research in Madrid, studying Gálvez drawings at the Real Jardín Botánico of Madrid. To complete the work I was undertaking in Madrid, I needed to consult the materials in English institutions related to this Expedition. At the beginning of the 19th Century, José Pavón sold and exchanged part of the collection to botanists around Europe to obtain international recognition. As a result, manuscripts about the journey to Peru and Chile, letters regarding Pavon’s selling, and herbarium sheets ended up in the Natural History Museum, the Royal Botanical Gardens of Kew, the Linnean Society of London, and the Wellcome Collection.

Part of my research in London involved consulting the editions of the Flora peruviana et chilensis that the institutions I visited held. I was interested in the making of the books, the engraving process, and which paper they used. The publication of the Flora lacked funding and suffered some troubles due to the political situation of Spain at the beginning of the 19th Century. These affairs affected the quality of the books and the number of volumes published. The Flora was going to be a compound of 12 volumes, however, only the first three were published with their descriptions. Ruiz and Pavon sent the illustrations in the fourth tome to some international botanists. For the first time, I could see the fourth volume of the Flora, from which there are only four copies in the World. I could examine three of them at Kew, the Natural History Museum, and the Linnean Society and study how they arrived in London.

On this trip, I hoped to find drawings by Galvez or his colleagues among the letters and publications related to Ruiz and Pavón. And although I encountered some letters proving the exchange of illustrations between Pavón and several English botanists, I could not locate any of these drawings. Nevertheless, I am content with having actual proof of these exchanges. This would help me study the diffusion of knowledge through botanical images.

While in London, I decided to go to other places like the British Library or the University of London to consult the bibliography not available in Spain and some classic titles on Natural History. Furthermore, I used my free time in the city to also visit the Museums and institutions that held materials related to scientific expeditions and those that had artworks from botanical artists. I particularly enjoyed seeing the cinchonas from the Wellcome Collection displayed at the Science Museum, as Ruiz and Pavon collected these barks in their travel to Peru. Moreover, visiting Kew Gardens and seeing Marianne North Gallery was one of the highlights of my time in the UK. As a scientific illustrator myself, studying the artworks of North, Maria Sibylla Merian, Georg Dionysius Ehret and others inspired me to continue researching botanical art and drawing.

I am very grateful to ARTES and CEEH to give me the opportunity to conduct my research in some of the best Natural History institutions in the World. Their generous support has helped me to obtain a global vision of the materials from Ruiz and Pavon Expedition and had encouraged me to continue with my PhD work. 

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