The Hudson Transparencies

Scope and Content

Created by Hudson to illustrate his lectures, the 'Hudson transparencies' are a collection of 58 large framed paintings on paper screens. These visual teaching aids illustrate microscopic organisms and were designed to be viewed backlit in a darkened room. Each screen is in a wooden frame, approximately 96cm high by 76cm wide. The paintings are on translucent white and coloured paper, with perforations to create highlights. Thick brown paper forms a mask so that only the image is seen, when lit from behind. It is thought some of these were created in the mid 1880's or later.

Hudson's way of working is described in a handout produced by the Biology Department, University of Exeter: 'His method was to rough out the portrait of his animal in chalk on a sheet of thick brown paper and then to cut out large areas over which he pasted a thin white paper upon which he painted the appropriate parts. All the more delicate lining was however done by a series of pinpricks. The final results when illuminated from behind are not only extremely accurate portraits of his subjects but quite thrillingly beautiful'

See Dr Robin Wootton's list for further details: http://devonassoc.org.uk/the-hudson-transparencies

Administrative / Biographical History

Charles Thomas Hudson (1828-1903), was born in Brompton, London on 11 March 1828. He was the third of five sons of John Corrie Hudson, Chief Clerk of the Legacy Duty Office and his wife Emily. In his youth, his father was an advanced radical and a friend of William Godwin, the Shelleys, Charles Lamb and William Hazlitt. Hudson was educated at Kensington Grammar School and The Grange Sunderland, excelling in drawing and music. He wrote and composed songs as a young man. Before the age of 20, of necessity, Hudson earnt his living by teaching at Glasgow and then the Royal Institution Liverpool. In 1848, aged 20, he went to St. John's College Cambridge, studying mathematics and graduating with a first class degree as fifteenth wrangler. After leaving Cambridge he taught as second master at Bristol Grammar School. By 1855 he was appointed Headmaster and was awarded his MA from Cambridge. In the same year he married Mary Ann Tibbits, with whom he had a daughter. In 1858 Hudson married his second wife, Louisa Hammond, with whom he had four sons and five daughters. He opened his own private boys' school in Bristol in 1861, and in the same year joined the Bristol Microscopical Society. Cambridge awarded him the degree of LLD in 1866 and he retired from school teaching in 1881. He moved from Bristol to Dawlish, Devon in 1891 and then lived in Shanklin, on the Isle of Wight from 1899 for the rest of his life.

Hudson was a naturalist, devoting his leisure to microscopical research. He became an expert in the study of the Rotifera, popularly known as the wheel animalcules, a division of tiny multicellular animals in fresh water and marine ecosystems.

He gave talks and published numerous papers in scientific journals, becoming internationally acknowledged as an authority on rotifers. Elected fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society in 1872, he was president from 1888-1890, and an honorary fellow from 1901 until his death. Assisted by the marine zoologist Phillip Henry Gosse, he co-authored the definitive 19th Century monograph 'The Rotifera, or Wheel Animalcules' published by Longmans Green & Co in 1886 and 1889. This work was illustrated by both Hudson and Gosse.

Hudson's natural gift for drawing is evident in the beautiful illustrations of 'The Rotifera' and the ingeniously constructed colour transparencies that he created to illustrate his talks. .

Sources: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004) Wootton, Robin (2011), 'The Hudson Transparencies. A set of remarkable visual aids by a distinguished Victorian microscopist.' Report and Transactions of the Devonshire Association 143 pp. 61-90

Arrangement

As listed by Dr Robin Wootton

Conditions Governing Access

Please contact Special Collections

Other Finding Aids

Listed by Dr Robin Wootton. Abbreviated list: see http://devonassoc.org.uk/the-hudson-transparencies. Detailed list: Wootton, Robin (2011), 'The Hudson Transparencies. A set of remarkable visual aids by a distinguished Victorian microscopist.' Report and Transactions of the Devonshire Association 143 pp. 61–90

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Fragile. The screens are of uniform size 760mm x 965mm portrait format, with wooden frames

Conditions Governing Use

Usual EUL restrictions apply

Related Material

BL, 1862-1957: letters (29) of and relating to him, Add. MS 63102 Royal Society, Drawings, MS 132 C.T.Hudson, assisted by P.H.Gosse, 'The Rotifera : or, Wheel-animalcules' 2 vols. (London : Longmans, Green, 1889). Accessible online on the Internet Archive https://archive.org/

Bibliography

Wootton, Robin (2011), 'The Hudson Transparencies. A set of remarkable visual aids by a distinguished Victorian microscopist.' Report and Transactions of the Devonshire Association 143 pp. 61-90 See also the Devonshire Association http://devonassoc.org.uk/the-hudson-transparencies/