Carlos S. Carbonell
seems to me that man, from the earliest times to the present, has always
felt obscurely maybe that all warm-blooded animals were
in some way "next of kin." Mammals such as dogs and horses,
but even bears, lions and elephants were thought in some way relations.
And birds too were relatives, maybe twice removed. Lizards, snakes,
frogs and fish seemed farther away. But anatomists found that they were
made roughly on the same blueprints as man. Then came Darwin and explained
everything. Yes, we are all related, in spite of those who want man
But there are other beings that do not fit that scheme. What about a
starfish or a jellyfish, an earthworm or an insect? Insects are everywhere,
and never fail to interest man. Some butterflies and beetles are obviously
beautiful. But most insects are beautiful when observed through a microscope.
Also, they are utterly different from us in their anatomy and way of
living. As compared with our kind, the vertebrate kind, they look like
the inhabitants of another planet in another solar system.
Beauty or strangeness never fails to attract man. I have been interested
in the insects since I can remember. When Rimer Cardillo was living
in Uruguay, many years ago, he used to come to my home and spend long
hours observing insects through a microscope, and drawing them. He is
no entomologist of course. But he is a born artist, and had discovered
by himself the beauty of insects.
There are books published more than a century ago, with wonderful illustrations
that were made as engravings on copper plates, and then printed and
colored by hand with watercolors. Thinking as an entomologist, it seemed
to me that nothing better could be done. But what about Cardillo's insects?
They are not intended for entomologists. They are for everybody (entomologists
included). I have always found them very attractive; comparing them
with other excellent illustrations in books about insects, I have discovered
why. Cardillo's insects are not "the insect" like the illustrations
in a textbook. Each one is a unique personal insect at a particular
moment of its life. He can make a score of drawings of the same insect,
and they will all be different. And that is why they belong in another
realm than the illustrations in an entomology textbook or scientific
paper. Each of the insects depicted by Cardillo has its own peculiar
personality. Could they speak to each other, one feels, they would have
different thoughts, different opinions about everything.
Carlos S. Carbonell is a professional entomologist and
has worked as such all his life. His self-taught training began in his
grammar school years, and later, in a still informal way with a senior
entomologist who was then retired. He graduated in1945 from the University
of Uruguay, and then spent some time in the USA doing post-graduate
studies under R. E. Snodgrass, a world-famous entomologist. Back in
his own country, his early activities were in applied entomology that
he never found quite to his taste. Later he joined the staff of the
University of Uruguay (College of Sciences) and become the first professor
of theoretical Entomology in his country. Since then, and to his retirement
in 1985, he lectured at the University of Uruguay, and also, during
the dark years of the military government, at the University of Rio
de Janeiro. But his main activities have been research, which he has
always preferred to teaching and that he continues to this day. His
field work has taken him to most of the countries in South America,
and his laboratory work to many museums and universities in the Americas
and Europe. He has published more than 60 research papers, illustrated
with his own drawings.