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Finding Aid for the Murman Watercolors of California Flora., 1941-1961
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
The Murman collection consists of 495 original watercolors and 26 photographs of California native plants, representing 85 different families and ca. 460 species. The paintings are scientifically accurate as well as artistic, each showing details of a branch and enlarged paintings of the flowers, fruit, and other diagnostic parts. Murman, originally a Russian banker, trained as a commercial artist after his emigration to the U.S. in 1905 and became a furniture designer in Los Angeles in 1906. After his retirement, he began traveling throughout California making preliminary sketches, color notes, and photographs of plants and collecting dried specimens; using these, Murman produced his body of watercolors in his home studio. Each series in the Container List represents a plant family. Each entry represents one plate, listing the scientific and common name, date & place of specimen collection, plus notes.
Background
Eugene O. Murman (Apr. 18, 1874 - Mar. 17, 1962) was born in St. Petersburg, Russia and developed an early interest in natural history and nature photography. After jobs as translator and clerk, he joined the foreign exchange department of the Russian Commercial and Industrial Bank and remained there until his immigration to the United States in 1905. Unable to find a banking position in New York, Murman decided on a change of career and spent a year in Germany being trained as a commercial artist. In 1906 he moved to Los Angeles where he soon became head designer for the California Furniture Company, which subsequently became W. & J. Sloane; he stayed with this firm for thirty-four years. During his free hours and on holidays he amassed a fine butterfly collection and became familiar with the plants and birds of his new home. His collection of hand-colored lantern slides was used to illustrate lectures on various natural history topics; these slides now reside in the Hancock Library of Biology & Oceanography at the University of Southern California. The butterfly collection was given to the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History.
Extent
26 boxes (52 linear ft.) and 78 35-mm. slides
Availability
The collection is open for research. The copyright for the plates does not reside with UCLA. Some plates, mostly of conifers and other California trees, have been published by the University of California Press or Cachuma Press; rights to these plates will pass into the public domain in 2012. Contact the History & Special Collections Division of the Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library, UCLA, for further information.