Philip Howse has asked for our help. Please see below.
The Rev Arthur Miles Moss built the first Anglican Church in the Amazon (Belém, Brazil) in 1912, where his parish was the largest in the world, roughly 3000 miles long by 800 miles wide, and where the far-flung communities were accessible only by river. He was multitalented: an artist, composer, organist, but above a passionate entomologist, one of Lord Walter Rothschild’s Collectors, described by Dame Miriam Rothschild as ‘the famed butterfly hunter’.
Moss discovered new species of butterflies, moths and plants, a number of which have been named after him. Most of his work was published by his main patron, Lord Walter Rothschild, the founder of Tring Museum, in his zoological journals. His illustrations have been greatly admired by entomologists.
His superb collection of 25 000 Brazilian butterflies and moths has remained in the British Museum of Natural History since his death in 1945. His original watercolour illustrations, previously published by Lord Walter Rothschild, are works of art of the highest quality. They are also extremely accurate representations and can be set beside modern photographic images. Most portray incredible examples of mimicry found amongst caterpillars of rare species, including mimicry of snakes, small lizards and spiders. Other illustrations include those of orchids, Aristolochia vines, and fish.
Moss spent far longer in the Amazon than his much-feted predecessors in the field of Amazonian natural history, Alfred Russel Wallace and Henry Walter Bates, but most details of his biological work, illustrations, travels, and adventures have never been published although they exist in manuscript form. It is the hope that when his story is told, his name will come to rank among the Titans of Amazonian natural history exploration, and as an iconic figure in the Anglican Church in South America.
A biography of Moss is now nearing completion, but I am still searching for information on whereabouts of some of his South American collections and water-colours which are not in museums. This includes material that he donated to his friends or which may have been purchased by people who visited him on organised tours during Booth Line Amazon cruises between 1912 and 1945. I would be very pleased to hear from anyone with relevant information.
Prof. Philip Howse
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