As a young man, Lee tried many jobs: taxidermist, railway fireman, electrical engineer. But he was always drawn to art, especially wildlife art. Rural life in Aitkin County offered him opportunities to draw and paint local plants and animals, including game the Jaques family hunted. The museum swiftly hired him as a staff artist.
Combining taxidermy mounts, plants, and realistic painted backgrounds, habitat dioramas were—and remain—a central feature of natural history museums. Jaques painted dozens of dioramas for the AMNH, many still on display. In , Jaques married the writer Florence Page.
The spent their honeymoon in what is now the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness , sparking a lifelong love of this area and a commitment to its preservation. Florence wrote about their experiences in Canoe Country , which Lee illustrated. The couple would publish five more books about their travels exploring nature. Birds, especially ducks, were a favorite subject. In an era before high-speed photography, Jaques was noted for his accurate images of birds in flight. Moose, elk, cranes, shorebirds, and more followed. Between and , the artist painted nine large and eleven medium-sized dioramas for the Bell Museum.
He discusses his life as a museum artist and his experiences on many far-flung scientific expeditions. Near the Aleutian Islands, the Morrissey encountered thousands of sea birds on their migration north. Frank Chapman at 70, had delegated day-to-day oversight of this hall to Murphy and Ernst Mayr. By pushing toward this goal, Chapman created the parameters for a new genre of museum exhibitry. Year:
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Francis Lee Jaques: Artist-Naturalist [Donald Luce, Laura Andrews] on Amazon. com. *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Paperback, Quarto, , PP, His . Francis Lee Jaques was the first bird artist I ever knew. Indeed, I had never met an ornithologist of any sort when I boarded the train for New York City to attend.
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Luce A copy that has been read, but remains in clean condition. Belmore Brown was hired on contract to paint the iconic diorama that greets visitors to the North American Mammal Hall. Although, Jaques' studies would not be used, he may have had them on hand as ancillary studies when he painted the Peabody Museum's Alaskan Brown Bear diorama in Wilson and Jaques were in different worlds when it came to painting dioramas.
They were two of the top artists ever to paint dioramas at the American Museum and it is understandable that there may have been a competitive jealousy that made for a difficult association between the two. Jaques wrote a short chapter on James Perry Wilson in his infamous autobiography. Here, Jaques admitted that Wilson's dioramas were very popular, but he dismisses them in the same sentence as giant Kodachromes. Jaques wrote, "He never changed anything on his backgrounds.
Jaques shared Wilson's concern with depicting how light, color, and atmosphere operated in the landscape. From there the two would diverge into two different camps of diorama painting. Jaques painted beautiful landscapes in his signature style using strong, flat, distinct areas with a linear emphasis.
He painted dynamic compositions and, as implied, he felt no hesitation to add elements that he felt would enhance dynamism. Jaques was innately talented and he took much pride in his work. He was supremely confident in his own system of portraying natural phenomenon. To him, Wilson's mimetic and mathematically based methods seemed too fussy and time-consuming.
Jaques mocked the amount of time it took Wilson to paint each diorama, specifically pointing to Wilson's methodical painting of skies, the unnecessary time spent gridding the background, and the time spent drawing animals on the side walls anamorphically. He wrote that he was able to achieve as much, if not more than Wilson in half the time.
Jaques wasted no time when he painted. He didn't like fussy methods. Although early in his career, he started with a well-defined charcoal sketch, as time went on, he used only a quick outline drawing before he would start painting.
He finished each area as he went, usually starting with the horizon. He established his color there, then painted the sky. He described how he painted skies as compared to James Perry Wilson in his unpublished autobiography:. Perry's method of doing skies permitted him to graduate them from dark to light, but in the opposite dimension, from warm to cool, or whatever. With my method I could only go from light to a darker shade, thus mix enough of the lightest shade to cover the whole sky, which is usually the horizon, and add thin darker color as you go up.
That is for instance, color from the tube mixed thin to a liquid. This adds very little to the volume of paint and you come out even. From the horizon, Jaques would typically paint down and from left to right, though not always. Sometimes he would skip around painting an area to completion and then going to another area, painting it to completion and so on. Jaques typically painted the birds first and painted the background around them later.
He would determine the size of the birds by using paper cutouts of varying sizes. This sizing method wasn't always effective. Wilson called attention in the Roosevelt Bird Sanctuary to what is seen in several dioramas: the birds are magnificently painted, but they look uncomfortably large.
Some of his birds look oversized in the Shoreline diorama at the Peabody Museum. Jaques came up with his own individualized methods for painting. He sometimes underpainted heavily forested areas in black enamel paint to help get the feeling of a densely shadowed or darkly wooded environment. Jaques and Wilson could not have had more dissimilar personalities or interests. Jaques noted some of Wilson's eccentricities, such as living at home with his mother, and going to classical music concerts alone. Jaques acknowledged that Wilson used his head, but in unusual ways like figuring out where to wait for the train every day so that he might get a seat.
Wilson's lack of world war service could not have played well with Jaques who resented having to give up his own time in the service. Jaques disliked James L.
Clark and wouldn't be cowed by him or, for that matter, any of the other administrators. The fact that Wilson seemed to politely accept Clark's coronation as his pet painter, must have looked like Wilson was currying favor. Jaques was angry that he had been passed over in that hall and he held both Clark and Anthony responsible. It certainly would have smarted to see how many of the highly visible North American mammal dioramas Wilson painted while he was given only one of the lesser ones.
Wilson's delicate nature and seeming disregard for all the defining characteristics of manhood was worlds away, unbridgeable to that of Jaques. Ray deLucia traveled with Wilson on several trips to collect material for the North American Mammal Hall dioramas and laughed about Wilson's lack of physical strength. In the early days [on museum expeditions] we'd go out by station wagon and the things we couldn't fit into the car we'd ship by train.
I spent a lot of time making crates. Perry didn't do a lot of physical work. Once I asked him to give me a hand with a crate I couldn't lift by myself. He put two fingers on it-that was about all the help you could get out of Perry. Jaques, in sharp contrast, liked to join in on strenuous tasks. Physical strength was a source of pride for Jaques and a standard to which he held all men accountable.
You frequently had to lift something and you lifted as much as you could, if you couldn't, you got someone to help and he did and didn't charge anything for his help either.