Endless Forms: Charles Darwin, Natural Science, and the Visual Arts

Cover, Endless Forms: Charles Darwin, Natural Science, and the Visual Arts

Edited by Diana Donald and Jane Munro

With contributions by Diana Donald, Julia Bryant, Rebecca Bedell, Jan Eric Olsen, Nicola Gauld, David Bindman, Elizabeth Edwards, Julia Voss, Jonathan Smith, and Richard Kendall

Published by the Yale Center for British Art and the Fitzwilliam Museum in association with Yale University Press

346 pages, 12 x 9 1/2 inches, 250 illustrations, cloth, ISBN 978-0300148268

Publication date: April 21, 2009


Charles Darwin’s theories have had a profound influence on research in biology, natural history, and ecology. But they also inspired many nineteenth-century artists, providing insights into the dynamic workings of nature and our relationship to animals—spawning new ideas about art itself and the meaning of beauty. This was a two-way process. Darwin himself—a keen observer of nature—was influenced not just by natural history illustrations but by the imaginative themes of contemporary painters. This lavishly illustrated book is the first to explore Darwin’s links with artistic traditions and his impact on the visual arts in Europe and America in the nineteenth century. Bringing together art and science in a completely original way, it sets works by major artists such as Church, Landseer, Heade, Redon, Cézanne, and Monet in a fresh and illuminating context. In grand landscape painting and dioramas, in imaginary scenes of prehistory and early human life, in depictions of exotic birds and of life in the wild, Darwin’s sense of the interplay of all living things and of the beauties of color and form in nature proved vital. The publication was short-listed for the 2009 Spear’s Book Award in the category of coffee table book, sponsored by Spear’s Wealth Management Survey.

Purchase this publication