Darwin’s Snarked Study

Also here I am struggeling with pareidolia: Did the painter Alfred Parsons or the engraver James Tynan hide references to The Hunting of the Snark in their artistic rendering of a photo of Darwin’s study? And is there a little zoo hidden in the picture?

  • [upper left]: The Study at Down (from the The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, v.25 Nov 1882-April 1883, p. 420, Indiana University Library)
    Illustration from a painting (that again from a photo) by Alfred Parsons
    Engraver: James Tynan
    (Scan from original 19th century source:
    Francis Darwin: The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Vol. 1, 1888, p. 101)
  • [lower left]: Some details from the larger images
  • [right]: Illustration by Henry Holiday (engraved by Joseph Swain) to Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, 1876

Alfred Parsons may have alluded to Henry Holiday’s illustration. I am not so sure about that, but if Parson played Holiday’s game with Holiday’s illustration, then Parsons must have manipulated the reality (shown in a photo) of Darwin’s study a bit.

Comparison with a scanned print of an engraving which is based on Alfred Parsons painting:

Three segments: photo, illustration (Parsons, Tynan), illustration (Holiday, Swain).

Today (2024-04-19) I went through my picture collection and found this technically mediocre rendering of an detail of Parson’s painting. (Yet, blur and low resolution sometimes can be helpful.) Here pareidolia makes me seeing a little zoo hidden in the picture.

Questions: Where is Parsons original painting? And is the photo still available?

related blog post

2017-09-23, updated: 2024-04-19

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