Seriously similar skulls

Modern Books and Manuscripts 2013-03-08

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the newly acquired Santo Domingo collection.

Could it be true that similar animal forms share the same habits?  José Joaquim da Gama Machado certainly thought so, and produced the text and drawings to back it up.  Machado was a 19th-century scientist who studied homeopathy, phrenology, as well as physiognomy before he took up natural history in his fifties.  An extremely eccentric Portuguese man he spent his life surrounded by birds and was known to stroll about Paris, usually accompanied by his favorite parrot on his shoulder.  The idea presented in Théorie des ressemblances is that animals that share the same form, color, and outward appearance also share the same habits and customs.  Théorie des ressemblances illustrates Machado’s theory with beautifully colored lithographic plates modeled on Machado’s own drawings along with French text detailing the comparisons.

LinkThéorie des ressemblances, ou, Essai philosophique sur les moyens de déterminer les dispositions physiques et morales des animaux, d’après les analogies de formes, de robes et de couleurs / Par le Cher de G.M. — ; orné de Vingt Planches.

Thanks to Alison Harris, Santo Domingo Project Manager, for contributing this post.