Bioillustrations has been around for years, but lately it's become more of a hot topic. Some universities have added degree programs in Bioillustration including University of Florida. Other universities have established programs such as Iowa State University, University of Toronto, John Hopkins University(whose medical and biological illustration program just celebrated it's 100th anniversary).
What is Bioillustration? It is the illustration of biological concepts and principles. Bioillustration is all around you. Open a biology or medical textbook, all the diagrams and figures are bioillustration.
For as long as there has been science, people have been devising ways to share their discoveries. The history of Bioillustration is hard to track down since it is not as widely studied. Instead of giving a history, I'm going to share about different historic artists and biological illustration from around DeviantART.
Famous & Interesting Biological Illustrators
Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519) is best known for his paintings. But his notebooks are a wealth of information on everything from drapery studies to his grocery lists. He drew many illustrations of the natural world and human anatomy. Many of his drawings are accompanied with explanations, observations, and other notes. He was the first to draw scientific drawings of a fetus in vitro accurately. Because of his position as a distinguished artist, da Vinci was given the privilege to dissect cadavers. Many of his anatomy drawings were ahead of his time, especially the ones concerned with the mechanics of the human body. Leonardo da Vinci worked with a doctor to write and illustrate a massive treatise on human anatomy of which only a small portion was published.
Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919) was a German zoologist who coined many biological words such a ecology and discovered over 150 new species. Haeckel was a contemporary of Darwin. He created the first tree of life, showing the relationship between species. Haeckel studied many invertebrate groups including radiolarians, sponges, and annelid worms. In 1899, Haeckel began the publication of the first volume of his most important work, Art Forms of Nature. The final volume was published in 1904. The volumes consisted of plates of related species arranged in a order showing their similarities and differences. The lithographic prints were not static, but full of motion and drama. The volumes were popular and beloved for their illustrations. Many of the species pictured were ones first descripted by Haeckel.
Beatrix Potter (1866 –1943) is best known for her children's books including Peter Rabbit. But she was interested in almost every branch of natural science. Her main focus was mycology, the study of fungi. She researched and painted fungi. Potter was especially curious as to how fungi reproduce. She drew many drawings of microscopic fungi spores and conducted her own research. Potter wrote a paper laying out her theory for fungi reproduction that the new fungi were created by the combination of two parents. This was in contrast to the other prominent theories. The paper was accompanied by lush drawings and submitted to the Linnaean Society, who would not let her present it because she was a woman. Potter retracted her paper's submission because of contaminated samples. As a result her drawings were not published until after her death. In 1967, her drawings were used in the publication of Wayside & Woodland Fungi, posthumously fulfilling her wish for them to be used in a publication. Potter's drawings are still used for identification of fungi today.