Histoire Naturelle, Générale et Particuliére, avec la description du Cabinet du Roi, Vol. X, p. 164, Plate XXIX, 1763, Buffon, Georges Louis Leclerc, comte de, published by L'Imprimerie Royale: Paris, France
Compare the background of Buffon's anteater to that seen for the anteater in Brehms Tierleben below. Which setting seems more like the natural environment of the animal? It was common practice in natural history sketches to place the animal within a human context, much like portraits of pets. The urbane backdrop can be seen in many of Buffon’s animal illustrations, providing a sense of context and aesthetic – both human.
Brehms Tierleben: kleine ausgabe fèur Volk und Schule, selection from p. 468, 1893, Brehm, Alfred Edmund, published by Bibliographisches Institut: Leipzig, Germany
Alfred Edmund Brehm served as the director of the Zoological Garden of Hamburg from 1862 to 1867, then founded and directed the Berlin Aquarium in 1869, and in 1873 took to travel writing. This naturalist had plenty of access to many live animals and possessed a knack for making natural history more popular among the masses. Certainly, the zoological illustrations in his book look more akin to live animals in their habitat than the stuffed, mangy looking creatures standing upon pedestals in Buffon’s works. Yet it seems as though some animals the illustrator either had never seen, or thought looked too skinny; from raccoons and moles to cats and wolves, many animals sport an excess of fur and fat which obscures some of their defining features. The anteater on this page looks as though it belongs in a hair commercial.