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Proof illustration of the animals of Madagascar

Proof illustration of the animals of Madagascar

Catalogue number: WP6/3/1/18

Proof illustration entitled Characteristic Animals of Madagascar for Wallace's book The Geographical Distribution of Animals, dated1876.

This proof illustration of the Characteristic Animals of Madagascar was for Wallace's two-volume book published in 1876, called The Geographical Distribution of Animals, with a Study of the Relations of Living and Extinct Faunas and Elucidating the Past Changes of the Earth's Surface.

The illustration, originally drawn by J.B. Zwecker, is on a cardboard mount, labelled by Wallace with the common names of the animals shown. These include river hogs, aye-aye, great billed starling and Madagascar shrike. In the published book, the title was changed to Scene in Madagascar with Characteristic Animals, appearing as Plate VI in volume 2.

Wallace had high expectations and hoped that he had reached the 'standard of excellence' he aimed at. In the preface to volume 1, Wallace says he tried to make the book as impressive as the eleventh and twelfth chapters of Darwin's book On The Origin of Species. He concludes: 'should it be judged worthy of such a rank, my long, and often wearisome labours, will be repaid'.

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