Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Legacy of Artistic Expression

Henri was a man of many talents, one of them art. Artistic expression was important for the de Buren family at Vaumarcus and can be traced back to Henri’s Dutch Great-Grandmother, Cornelia Jacobea van Assendelft.

Charles de Buren, Baron de Vaurmarcus & Cornelia Jacobea van Assendelft by Guillaume Jean Joseph de Spinny

Henri’s Great-Grandfather, Charles de Buren (1731-1787) served for many years in a Swiss regiment in Holland. When Charles finished his service he returned to Vaumarcus with his wife, Cornelia Jacobea van Assendelft (1733-1799), daughter of Jakob van Assendelft, Mayor of the Hague and Adrienne Christine de Hoey. When she arrived at Vaumarcus, being a lady of leisure, she was appalled by the medieval structure and asked her husband to build something contemporary. In 1772 Charles had built the newest part of the castle known as the “Palais”. An important request from his wife in regards to the new structure was to have an art studio on the top floor with great natural light in which she could paint. While no known examples of her painting still exist, she passed her love of art to her eldest son.

Charles Philippe de Buren (1759-1795) also served in Holland like his father and was a prolific amateur artist who focused primarily on nature scenes.

Nature Scene, Oil on canvas, 1783

Copper plate etching, 1791

Copper plate etching, 1783

Charles Philippe died of gout at an the early age of 36, but passed his appreciation for art to his son Albert de Buren.

Albert de Buren (1791-1873) like his father Charles Philippe was a prolific amateur artistic and painted mostly watercolors of his travels throughout Switzerland and other parts of Europe.

Château de Gorger, 1832

Château de Rolle, 1832

Romainmôtier, 1837

Henri’s watercolor style from his trip through the Americas is very similar to that of his father Albert and in the days before travel photography was surely a great way to bring back a visual souvenir of a journey.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Leo Lesquereux & William Starling Sullivant

While in the U.S., Henri de Büren paid a visit to another scientific figure from Neuchâtel, Leo Lesquereux who was working at the time in Columbus, Ohio with the celebrated bryologist William Starling Sullivant.

The following text is from
Pioneers of science in America By William Jay Youmans

"American science owes an incalculable debt to the Geneva Revolutionary Council of 1848, that suppressed the Academy of Neuchâtel and sent to our shores Agassiz, Guyot, and Lesquereux. In the heart of Switzerland's mountain grandeur this illustrious trio first saw the light and drank of that love of Nature which, deepening with the years, peculiarly linked their lives. Agassiz had been in America two years, when he was joined by Guyot and Lesquereux, whose friendship had been formed while they were collaborators in the quaint Swiss town."

Leo Lesquereux

"He embarked with his wife and five children as steerage passengers, reaching Boston in September, 1848. At the earnest solicitation of that naturalist he became a member of the household of Agassiz. Here he worked upon the botanical part of Agassiz's Journey to Lake Superior, until the eve of Christmas, 1848, when, at the invitation of the eminent bryologist, W. S. Sullivant, he went to Columbus, Ohio, and, entering his laboratory, continued there the study of mosses. At the close of the year 1849, under the advice and with the co-operation of Mr. Sullivant, he made a tour of exploration among the mountains of the Southern States, for the collection of plant specimens, and secured a great variety of plants, which found a ready sale among students of botany. He was particularly successful in the collection of mosses. The preparation of the specimens, their determination and distribution, gave him employment for two years, and resulted in one of the most valuable contributions to American bryology—the Musci Americani Exsiccati, by W. S. Sullivant and L. Lesquereux. The expense of preparation and publication of this work was defrayed by Mr. Sullivant, who, taking only a few copies for presentation, allowed his colleague the benefit of the sales of the rest. Using that author's library and herbarium Lesquereux lent most valuable assistance to the preparation of Mr. Sullivant's works on the mosses of the Wilkes South Pacific Exploring Expedition, Whipple's Pacific Railroad Exploration, and the Icones Muscorum."

William Starling Sullivant

At the death of William Startling Sullivant, Asa Gray said "In him we lose the most accomplished bryologist which this country has produced, and it can hardly be said that he leaves behind anywhere a superior."

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Louis François de Pourtalès

While traveling through the United States, Henri met his old friend from Neuchâtel, Louis François de Pourtalès in Washington D.C.

November, 1852
“From Baltimore I made my way to Washington, the capital of the United States, where I was reunited, not without some difficulty with my old school mate, François de Pourtalès. He is currently working for the United States coast survey there and received me with great warmth. While in Washington we took in a session of congress and visited the Capitol bu

Illustration of Washington D.C. & Capitol Building from 1852

de Pourtalès was not only a friend from Neuchâtel but a pupil of Louis Agassiz. He would work for the coast survey for many years and would later become the custodian of the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoölogy.

The Sea Bottom off Florida and Cuba, drawn by Pourtalès, 1870

Le Château de Gorgier
Another interesting link between the de Buren family and the de Pourtalès family is that the de Pourtalès family were owners at the time of the Castle of Gorgier also in the Canton of Neuchâtel, while Henri’s father Albert was the owner of Vaumarcus. Both the castles of Vaumarcus and Gorgier are near to eachother along the lake of Neuchâtel and have been linked together historically.

It is also interesting to note that when Henri was in Mexico city he stayed with François de Palezieux-Falconnet who happened to be the brother-in-law of Count James Alexandre de Pourtalès-Gorgier.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...