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Observing By HandSketching the Nebulae in the Nineteenth Century$
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Omar W. Nasim

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226084374

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226084404.001.0001

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Consolidation Andcoordination

Consolidation Andcoordination

Lord Rosse and His Assistants

(p.33) 1 Consolidation Andcoordination
Observing By Hand

Omar W. Nasim

University of Chicago Press

From the first entry of two nebulae into the observational records of Lord Rosse, the chapter follows these objects until they are prepared for the engraver’s plate and thus, publication. The ever multiplying preliminary sketches for these two objects reveal strategies used by the Rosse project to consolidate the eyes and hands of many assistants. Central to these layered movements and accretion of visual information is the gradual familiarization that an observer gained with an object–a process that was vital in his coming-to-know. The second part of this chapter discusses the internal and external demands made for a new procedure of observation, one that was capable of incorporating both the measured and pictorial aspects in one image. The author argues that this shift was as much a reflection of a growing and hardening distinction between scientific and artistic work, as it was a reflection of a general discontent on the part of well known nebular observers outside the Rosse project. But even in the new procedures it remained a challenge to find new ways to coordinate the eyes and hands of many assistants.

Keywords:   Materials and Practices, John Ruskin, Drawing Practices, Notebooks, Scientific Assistants, Art and Science, George Bindon Stoney, Samuel Hunter, Portraits, Natural History

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