Moby Dick Chapter 55 Of the Monstrous Pictures of Whales.
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2701/270 ... m#2HCH0055
Melville explains that the whale, being mostly under water in its natural habitat, is hard to draw accurately.http://www.johncoulthart.com/feuilleton ... of-whales/
discusses this chapter and shows the following incorrect drawings
these manifold mistakes in depicting the whale are not so very surprising after all. Consider! Most of the scientific drawings have been taken from the stranded fish; and these are about as correct as a drawing of a wrecked ship, with broken back, would correctly represent the noble animal itself in all its undashed pride of hull and spars. Though elephants have stood for their full-lengths, the living Leviathan has never yet fairly floated himself for his portrait. The living whale, in his full majesty and significance, is only to be seen at sea in unfathomable waters; and afloat the vast bulk of him is out of sight, like a launched line-of-battle ship; and out of that element it is a thing eternally impossible for mortal man to hoist him bodily into the air, so as to preserve all his mighty swells and undulations. And, not to speak of the highly presumable difference of contour between a young sucking whale and a full-grown Platonian Leviathan; yet, even in the case of one of those young sucking whales hoisted to a ship's deck, such is then the outlandish, eel-like, limbered, varying shape of him, that his precise expression the devil himself could not catch.
Melville therefore concludes, after describing the errors of various fertile imaginings in the drawing of whales
This chapter has its very own wikipedia page http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Moby-Dick/Chapter_55
with this picture of Goldsmith's whales mentioned above.
Oh, and I can't pass up Hogarth's picture of Perseus, Andromeda and the whale, noting as well that these three are immortalised in the heavens, with the whale known as Cetus - http://www.flickr.com/photos/miyaoka/3444363258/
and nearly immortalised on a Grecian Urn
This is discussed at http://ticklemebrahms.blogspot.com.au/2 ... chive.html
Here is the vase