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 Robert M. Mengel  (1921 - 1990)

About: Robert M. Mengel


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Lived/Active: Kansas      Known for: birds

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Ad Code: 4
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
February 21, 2002

Is on view through MAY 31, 2002

A new exhibition at The Academy of Natural Sciences showcases the artwork of Robert M. Mengel, a professor of ornithology who spent most of his life involved with birds.

Widely recognized as a scientist, writer, teacher, bibliographer and historian, Mengel (1921-1990), who was a professor of ornithology at the University of Kansas, was less well known to the public for his great passion for art. A Life With Birds: The Art of Robert M. Mengel , features a sampling of his watercolors, oils, ink washes and pen and inks.

The exhibition shows a small sample of the hundreds of watercolors, oils, pencil drawings, pen and inks, and scratch boards by Mengel that were given to The Academy of Natural Sciences by the artist's widow, Marion Jacobson Mengel in 1994. They represent different periods and styles in his artistic career. The collection is part of the Art and Artifacts Collection of the Academy's Ewell Sale Stewart Library.

Combining his skills as an artist and a scientist, Mengel often recorded his field and museum observations in visual form. He used the anatomical and behavioral studies he made throughout his career as reference materials for subsequent work. As important to him as his brushes and paint, they represented a tangible record of experience on which he could draw long after his memory of the sighting or specimen had dimmed.

Mengel's best-known body of work as an artist is undoubtedly that created for The Handbook of North American Birds , published between 1962 and 1988. Mengel worked closely with the publication's editor, Ralph Palmer, to create black-and-white illustrations that revealed as much as possible about his subjects-physical appearance, habitat and behavior-without sacrificing their aesthetic appeal.

The Academy of Natural Sciences, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19103

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