American Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel, Collection of 5 original ink drawings.
American Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel, Collection of 5 original ink drawings.

SERENO WATSON (1826-1892)

American Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel, Collection of 5 original ink drawings.

1867 to 1869 America

Offered by Hurlingham Fine Arts

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An extremely rare and important group of five botanical ink drawings by the botanist, Sereno Watson, relating to Clarence King's geological expedition through California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado, between 1867-69. The completed survey was published in the "Report of the Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel, made by Order of the Secretary of War According to Acts of Congress of March 2,1867, and March 3,1869, under the Direction of Brig. and Bvt. Major General A.A.Humphreys, Chief of Engineers, by Clarence King."
Volume 5 of the report is entitled " Botany " and is by Sereno Watson. The illustrations of the plants are not identical to our drawings which are likely to be Watson's fieldwork drawings of Western American plants being discovered and named for the first time.

Hailed as the first of the " Great Surveys " of the Fortieth Parallel, Clarence King's vision was to survey across the West from the crest of the Sierra Nevada to the western slope of the Rockies. During five seasons between 1867-69 Watson collected over 19,000 plant specimens in Nevada and Utah. Many of these now form part of the Smithsonian's botanical collection at the National Museum of Natural History.

Biography (Library of the Gray Herbarium):

'Sereno Watson was born on December 1,1826,and was raised on a farm in Connecticut. He graduated from Yale in 1847 and pursued a variety of occupations-teaching school, studying medicine, working in his brother's insurance company, doing editorial work for Dr.Henry Barnard. He returned to Yale and studied chemistry and mineralogy at the Sheffield Scientific School from 1866 to 1867. He went to California and,after a while, joined Clarence King's Expedition, which was carrying out a survey of the 40th parallel. Watson started working without salary and eventually came to be appointed the expedition botanist, after William Whitman Bailey left due to illness. Although he had no prior botanical training, Watson wrote the Botany of the King Expedition (Vol.5 for the Geological Survey, published 1871), working at New Haven under Daniel Cady Eaton and at Harvard under Asa Gray. Watson's botanical report is considered among the best of the survey expedition reports, owing in part to the careful notes on habitat made by Watson in the field. Asa Gray was much impressed with his work, and in 1873 appointed Watson an assistant in the Gray Herbarium. Watson's term as curator lasted until his death in 1892: he was also instructor in phytogeography from 1881 to 1884.'
Good condition
Height 11.50 inch (29.21 cm)
Width 7.12 inch (18.08 cm)
ink on paper
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