Hugh B. Cott - Artwork

Artwork

Cott was a founding member of the Society of Wildlife Artists, and a fellow of the Royal Photographic Society. From material gathered in field expeditions, he made contributions to the Cambridge University zoological museum.

Cott possessed considerable artistic skill. Like Abbott Thayer, he used his artistry in his scientific work, including in Adaptive Coloration in Animals, to help argue the case he was making. For example, his black-and-white potoo shows this rainforest bird sitting motionless on a mottled tree trunk, its behaviour and disruptive pattern combining to provide effective camouflage. David Rothenburg wrote of Cott's art:

Back to Hugh Cott's marvelous engraving of a potoo hidden in a black and white Costa Rican forest, frozen vertically like the tree trunk on which it hides. In nature the visible and invisible dance back and forth with each other, depending on how much we have learned to see.The science and art of this magic merge into one at the moment we grasp it.

Peter Forbes praised Cott's balance of science and artistry:

..in the conflict between artists and biologists, he was both. Cott was a competent illustrator as well as a biologist. Without having Nabokov's precisianism and anti-Darwinism, he brought an artistic sensibility to bear on these phenomena. His text is radiant with the wonder of these adaptations..

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