The National Library in Canberra, Australia is sponsoring an exhibit featuring the work of artist, John William Lewin. Lewin went to Australia in 1800 under the sponsorship of a wealthy London insect collector who wished to have drawings of the exotic fauna of Australia to share with audiences. In 1805, Lewin published a book, Prodromus Entomology, Natural History of the Lepidopterous Insects of New South Wales. This book contained plates of Lewin’s natural history drawings of insects and their host plants.
Lewin was a dedicated naturalist who based his art on personal observations of insects in nature. Lewin developed a unique style, showing the insects in life-like poses. His style had a great influence on later Naturalist-Artists such as Audubon.On his arrival in Australia, Lewin remarked how the Australian flora and fauna was “contrary to our knowledge in England”. Lewin was used by several Governors of Australia to make drawings that would communicate to the outside world the unique fauna of Australia. In an age before the color photograph, popular books with plates of exotic creatures captured the public imagination.