You are exploring:  Library  >
Exhibits Home  > 
Animals Through Human Eyes: Vintage Zoological Illustrations

Curator's Welcome

You are about to embark on a journey through the animal kingdom on a tour guided by human kind. You will encounter animals real and imaginary, feral and tame, small as a mouse and large as an elephant. Your expedition shall carry you through the special collections at Villanova University’s Falvey Library, and as such your outlook will be limited to the selections offered by this institution. Regarding space, the voyage shall almost exclusively cover the United States and some countries in Europe, with the former providing more than half the material. As far as time, the human scope of animals seen here will reach millennia into the past, although the temporal focus will center on the nineteenth century.

To keep you on the right path, bear in mind that you will be viewing beasts through the eyes of humans. As you examine each image and read their stories, consider how many points of view may be involved. Multiple interpretations abound and each animal does not fit perfectly into only one of the categories suggested herein, which is also far from an all-inclusive list of perspectives. Who authored the interpretation, and for what kind of audience? Stay on this track of thought and the past will teach you more about the present than you may have believed possible.

This excursion was brought to you by: Marjorie Haines (curator), Laura Bang (curatorial support), Michael Foight (curatorial guidance), Joanne Quinn (specialized graphics), and David Uspal (technical assistance). Special thanks also to Emily Schutsky for her proofreading.




 Taxidermist hermda.jpeg

The Dreaming Taxidermist


The Dreaming Taxidermist

Stereogram, The Taxidermists' After-Dinner Dream. "We thought all nature subservient to our will" Hurst's Stereoscopic Studies of Natural History, 1870, selection from front cover, 1870, Hurst, James A., published by Hurst & Sons