Bauer, Franz Andreas

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Bauer, Franz Andreas

(b. Feldsberg, Lower Austria, 4 October 1758; d. Kew, England, 11 December 1840)

botanical illustration, microscopy.

Bauer was educated by Father Boccius in Feldsberg and worked under Jacquin in Vienna. In 1788 he accompanied Jacquin’s son, Joseph, on his travels through Europe. In London they met Sir Joseph Banks and worked in his magnificent library and herbarium. Banks then engaged Bauer as artist at the Royal Garden, Kew, and at the attractive salary of £300 a year Bauer remained there for the rest of his life. His output was not so great as that of his brother Ferdinand, for his services were not adequately utilized and much of the time he followed his own fancy. This led him into the intricacies of flower structure in strelitzias and orchids, the nature of red snow, and the structure of pollen grains. He also illustrated the works of friends with microscopical and anatomical drawings: Banks’s works on cereal diseases and apple blight, Robert Brown’s description of Rafflesia and Woodsia, Home’s Lectures on Comparative Anatomy, and John Smith’s account of his discovery of the apomictic plant dovewood.

Bauer achieved recognition as a microscopist but made no lasting contribution to the field. For instance, while others correctly attributed the color of red snow to an alga, he believed the causal organism was a fungus. In his study of the rye ergot he inclined to the view that nutritional factors were responsible until John Smith showed him hyphae of the fungal agent in the infected ears. On the difficult subject of the fertilization mechanism in orchids Bauer, like Robert Brown, came to the wrong conclusions because he did not know that they are cross-pollinated by insects.

Bauer’s plant paintings are of outstanding beauty and scientific accuracy. From the beginning he tended to use a pure wash, whereas his brother Ferdinand relied more on body color; yet much of Ferdinand’s later work is indistinguishable from that of Franz. Since the cell theory and staining and fixing techniques had not yet been developed, it is understandable that Bauer’s microscopical paintings have little scientific worth.


I. Original Works. Bauer’s writings include Delineations of Exotic Plants Cultivated in the Royal Garden at Kew (London, 1796); Strelitzia depicta (London, 1818); “Microscopical Observations on the Red Snow,” in Quarterly Journal of Literature, Science and the Arts, 7 (1819), 222–229; “Some Experiments on the Fungi Which Constitute the Colouring Matter of the Red Snow Discovered in Baffin’s Bay,” in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 110 (1820), 165–172; “Croonian Lecture,” ibid., 113 (1823), 1–16; Illustrations of Orchidaceous Plants (London, 1830–1838); and “The Ergot of Rye,” in Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, 18 (1841), 509–512. Plates by Bauer are in E. Home, Lectures on Comparative Anatomy, 4 vols. and 2 supps (London, 1814–1828); and W.J. Hooker, Genera Filicum (London, 1842).

II. Secondary Literature. Obituaries are in Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London, 1 (1849), 101–104; and Proceedings of the Royal Society. 4 (1843), 342–344. On Bauer’s art see W. Blunt, The Art of Botanical Illustration (London, 1950), pp. 195–202.

R. Olby

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Bauer, Franz Andreas

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