The one above I liked because I like aquatic mammals, especially manatees. The renderings are close enough to be recognizable, but inaccurate enough to be a little amusing, which also suggests they were created not from reference to live animals--and thus perhaps not quite so amusing. Rarely does a manatee haul out and snooze on its side, especially on what appears to be an ice floe.
I had no idea where the illustration came from. Plate 36 from something. I did an image search for "manati," which produced endless underwater images of manatees. I skipped walrus and went straight to "ursine seal," and immediately a commercial site popped up that showed the same illustration, but hand-coloured. (The plate number there may not be 36. It's hard to read.) The illustration is described as,
"...an original hand colored engraving from the English edition of George Louis Leclerc Buffon's Natural History. The hand coloring is original, and the ingraving is over 180 years old.
Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon was a French naturalist, mathematician, biologist, cosmologist and author. Buffon's views influenced the next two generations of naturalists, including Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and Charles Darwin.Buffon is best remembered for his great work Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière. It included everything known about the natural world up until that date. In it Buffon considered the similarities between humans and apes, and the possibility of a common ancestry."
I'm not sure what this means about my picture, which is on heavy, yellowed paper, foxed in a few spots, and not coloured. Perhaps it is from a later edition of the book, or from a derivative source. Does anyone know the significance of the word "Proof," in the bottom right-hand corner? Could it mean that this copy was never part of a bound book? And what would that mean? How else would it exist?
In any case, it was nice to stumble upon a bit of its history. Thanks again, Google.