Tag Archives: portrait

Humblot: collector

Léon Joseph Henry Humblot (1852–1914) was a French naturalist and botanical collector. He worked as a gardener for the Muséum national d’histoire naturelle in Paris, then in 1878 embarked on a research trip to Madagascar, where he set up an experimental garden and collected orchid species. In 1884 he entered the Comoros Islands as part of a geographical survey conducted by the natural history museum. In 1885 he procured the signature of a treaty with the Sultan of Bambao, thus establishing a basis for a “Grande Comore protectorate”. During the following year, the French had overall rule of the Comoros (Grande Comore, Anjouan, Mayotte and Moheli islands) [1].

Humblot [2]

Although he mainly collected botanical specimens, he also collected snails on the islands and these were identified by Arthur Morelet, who published two papers on the results (Morelet, 1886, 1888). He named three species after him: Otopoma humbloti Morelet, 1886 (fig. 4); Ennea humbloti Morelet, 1886 (fig. 2); Bulimus humbloti Morelet, 1888.


Morelet A. 1886. Malacologie des Comores (4e article). Récolte de M. Humblot à la Grande Comore. Journal de Conchyliologie 33:288–301.
Morelet A. 1888. Malacologie des Comores (Cinquième article). Deuxième voyage de M. Humblot. Journal de Conchyliologie 35:281–291.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Léon_Humblot
[2] Léon Humblot à la Grande Comore


Welwitsch: collector

Arthur Morelet (1809–1892) started his malacological career with a privately funded collecting trip to Portugal (Morelet, 1845). He visited the natural history museum in Lisbon, which he described as “je ne sais trop dans quels termes en parler; un Français aurait mauvaise grâce à critiquer la pauvreté de cet établissement (…) est plutôt un musée de parade qu’une collection scientifique”. So he clearly was not impressed at all with the state of affairs in natural history. Nevertheless he also met with “M. Frédéric Wolwich, directeur du jardin botanique de Lisbonne, [who] a mis généreusement à ma disposition les matériaux qu’il avait recueillis dans les environs de cette capitale”. He named a freshwater mussel after him, Unio wolwichi.
In 1867 he published a large paper on molluscs from Angola collected by “Dr Friederich Welwitsch” and dedicated several new species to him.

These seemingly unrelated persons appeared to be one and the same when I looked up biographical data of the latter. Friedrich Martin Josef Welwitsch (1806–1872) was born in Austria and studied medicine and botany in Vienna. He worked a few years as physician but abandoned in 1839 the medical profession altogether. With the financial aid of a Württemberg botanical association Welwitsch travelled to Portugal where he became the director of the botanical gardens. His claim to fame came when with the further support of the Portuguese agent of the Württemberg botanical society he did research on the Canary Islands, on Madeira, and, in the interest of the Portuguese government, from 1853 in Angola, then a Portuguese colony. After eight strenuous years of exploring and collecting, Welwitsch returned to Portugal in 1861. Because of better working conditions, he went to London in 1863. There, he worked at first at the Natural History Museum and later at the Kew Gardens, categorising and cataloguing its enormous collection.


Apparently Morelet and Welwitsch kept in contact after they met in Lisbon, and Welwitsch trusted to him the malacological collection he made during his stay in Angola. This is still an important paper about the Angolan non-marine fauna.

Morelet A. 1845. Description des mollusques terrestres et fluviatiles du Portugal. Paris: Baillière, i–vii + 1–415.
Morelet A. 1867. Voyage du Dr Friederich Welwitsch exécuté par ordre du Gouvernement Portugais dans les royaumes d’Angola et de Benguella (Afrique équinoxiale). Mollusques terrestres et fluviatiles. Paris/London/New York: Baillière et fils, 1–102.

[1] https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_Welwitsch.

Œhlert: bio, portrait

Daniel Victor Œhlert (1849–1920) was born and lived in Laval (Dept. Mayenne, France), where he worked as librarian and later as curator of the local Musée d’Archeologie and of the Muséum d’histoire naturelle in Laval. Although an ‘amateur’ he devoted himself to geology, and paleontology of the region where he lived. He was a member of the Société géologique de France since 1877. He also published several papers in the Journal de Conchyliologie about Brachiopoda.


In 1874 he married with Pauline Eugénie Crié (1854–1911), who actively supported her man in his research. From 1887 onwards he even signed his papers with Œhlert D.-P. [Œhlert Daniel-Pauline] , to signify that they both contributed.

A complete bibliography and a list of new taxa may be found in Emig (2013).

Emig CC. 2013. Daniel Œhlert (1849-1920) : sa biographie scientifique et sa bibliographie. Carnets de Géologie [Notebooks on Geology], Article 2013/08 (CG2013_A08): 303–314. [See also here]

[1] Pauline et Daniel Œhlert – Photo © Coll. Musées de Laval.

Chatenier: bio, portrait

Constant Chatenier (1849-1926) was a French botanist and conchologist. He was elementary school principal and he explored the plains and mountains of the Drome department. He worked as collaborator to the Flora of France, with the famous botanists Rouy & Foucaud. Some species had been described by him, particularly in the Rouy & Foucaud’s work, and some others had been dedicaced to him.


Chatenier was interested in local malacology. In 1888, he published a Catalogue des Mollusques terrestres et fluviatiles observés dans le département de la Drôme… at the same time of the appearance of a similar work of Gustave Sayn, and almost with the same title, ignoring one another!

He was influenced by Saint-Lager, who was a well-known botanist in Lyon, also a nomenclaturist. Saint-Lager proposed a “reform of the botanical nomenclature” in 1880 and published a “trial of the botanical and zoological nomenclature” in 1886. Chatenier applied the principles proposed by Saint-Lager to the names of species of molluscs, notably he rejected all substantive names in apposition for specific names and other linguistical problems, e. g. Helix ericeticola instead of H. ericetorum, Pupa aveniformis (vs P. avena), P. frumentiformis (vs P. frumentum), etc. In total, 24 names had been changed for grammatical “errors” in his Catalogue. He confessed that the reasons to change the nomenctature were ‘pre-emptive’ and concluded: “J’ose espérer qu’elles [les raisons] seront ratifiées par tous ceux qui n’ont pas pour la tradition un respect exagéré”. Chatenier judged that the priority rule was less important than grammatical rules.

In malacology, Chatenier described: Helix megalomphala Chatenier, 1888, Helix petrophila Chatenier, 1888 and some manuscript names: Moitessieria elegans Chatenier, Pupilla costulata Chatenier. He is dedicatee of a Helix chatenieri by Germain, 1905. Victor Piraud, director of the Muséum d’histoire naturelle de Grenoble, had been asked him to determine regional molluscs in the museum.

Chatenier C. 1888. Catalogue des Mollusques terrestres et fluviatiles observés dans le département de la Drôme. Bulletin de la Société de Sciences naturelles de la Drôme, (62 p.).
Sayn G. 1888-1889. Catalogue des Mollusques terrestres et fluviatiles du département de la Drôme. Bulletins de la Société malacologique de France 5: 121–184 (1888); 6: 67–81 (1889).

[1] Portrait: MHNGr archives (I’m grateful to Mrs Catherine Gauthier for access to the collections and Philippe Candegabe for the scan).

Paz: bio, portrait


Patricio Paz y Membiela (1808–1874) was marine and military and was selected as President of the the ‘Comisión Científica del Pacifíco’ (CCP), a group of six Spanish scientists who made an expedition through many parts of South, and some of Central, America from mid-1862 till end 1865. This expedition was part of a larger military expedition to the west coast of South America under the command of the frigate “Triunfo” (Puig-Samper, 1988).


Paz travelled all over the world visiting South America three times (Barreiro 1992: 438), but apart from the visit with the CCP no dates nor itineraries of his travels are known. He formed an excellent shell collection , which probably originated from his relation with the Cuban naturalists Felipe Poey and Nicolás Gutiérrez in Matanzas and La Habana respectively. His continuous confrontations with the commandant of the “Triunfo” lead to his resignation to Queen Isabel II in 1863; he left the CCP in Callao. Once the CCP had returned to Spain, he was entrusted with Francisco de Paula Martínez the preparation of the zoological material for a public exhibition in the Botanical Garden in Madrid in 1866 (López-Ocón & Badia, 2003). After his death, his mollusc collection comprising 12,000 species and 40,000 specimens was sold to the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales in Madrid (Barreiro, 1992: 437). He was befriended with Joaquin Hidalgo, who helped him with the study of the molluscs collected by the CCP.

Barreiro AJ. 1992. El Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (1771–1935). Aranjuez: Doce Calles, 509 pp.
López-Ocón L, Badía S. 2003. Overcoming obstacles: the triple mobilization of the Comisión Científica del Pacífico. Science in Context 16: 505–534.
Puig-Samper MA. 1988. Crónica de una expedición romántica al Nuevo Mundo. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 459 pp.

[1] MNCN archives.

Louise de Coucy: early lady-conchologist

Louise Caroline de Coucy was born 18 September 1827 in Margerie-Hancourt (France, Seine-et-Marne) as the daughter of Anne Joseph Alfred de Coucy, Inspector of Forests. She was initially interested in entomology by her yought friend Édulie Loizelot. After her marriage with Philibert Guéneau d’Aumont  (x 21 May 1849, Troyes, Côte-d’Or), they collected jointly land and freshwater snails until her untimely death on 19 August 1853 in Toulon (France, Var).


They were in contact with Gacogne, Moquin-Tandon, Lecoq, and Wachanru.

The collection forms part of the Guéneau d’Aumont collection in UBZ.

Audibert, C. 2016. 
La collection conchyliologique des Guéneau d’Aumont. Folia conchyliologica (forthcoming).

Hidalgo: a new portrait

Joaquin G. Hidalgo (1839–1923) was a well-known Spanish malacologist who has published both on marine and non-marine shells. He had a focus on Spain and the Philippines, but during his early career also published on shells from the Neotropical area. Azpeitia (1923) has published his bibliography, list of new taxa described, and eponyms; he also published a portrait at unknown age (likely early 20th century).

Recently I was given the following portrait, which is dated 1882 [1].


Azpeitia F. 1923. El Doctor Hidalgo y sus publicaciones malacológicas. Revista de la Real Academia de Ciencias 21: 58–120.

[1] I am very grateful to Wim Backhuys, who presented me this copy from the Crosse archive.