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The illustrations and work of William Archer

Hansen, A 2007 , 'The illustrations and work of William Archer', Unspecified thesis, University of Tasmania.

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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The thesis investigates the TMAG illustrations and a previously unpublished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.

Item Type: Thesis - Unspecified
Authors/Creators:Hansen, A
Copyright Information:

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).

Additional Information:

Thesis (MFA)--University of Tasmania, 2007. Includes bibliographical references

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