The Murman collection consists of 495 original
watercolors and 26 photographs of California native plants, representing
85 different families and ca. 460 species. The paintings are
scientifically accurate as well as artistic, each showing details of a
branch and enlarged paintings of the flowers, fruit, and other diagnostic
parts. Murman, originally a Russian banker, trained as a commercial artist
after his emigration to the U.S. in 1905 and became a furniture designer
in Los Angeles in 1906. After his retirement, he began traveling
throughout California making preliminary sketches, color notes, and
photographs of plants and collecting dried specimens; using these, Murman
produced his body of watercolors in his home studio. Each series in the
Container List represents a plant family. Each entry represents one plate,
listing the scientific and common name, date & place of specimen
collection, plus notes.
Eugene O. Murman (Apr. 18, 1874 - Mar. 17, 1962) was born in St.
Petersburg, Russia and developed an early interest in natural history and
nature photography. After jobs as translator and clerk, he joined the
foreign exchange department of the Russian Commercial and Industrial Bank
and remained there until his immigration to the United States in 1905.
Unable to find a banking position in New York, Murman decided on a change
of career and spent a year in Germany being trained as a commercial
artist. In 1906 he moved to Los Angeles where he soon became head designer
for the California Furniture Company, which subsequently became W.
& J. Sloane; he stayed with this firm for thirty-four years. During
his free hours and on holidays he amassed a fine butterfly collection and
became familiar with the plants and birds of his new home. His collection
of hand-colored lantern slides was used to illustrate lectures on various
natural history topics; these slides now reside in the Hancock Library of
Biology & Oceanography at the University of Southern California.
The butterfly collection was given to the Los Angeles County Museum of
26 boxes (52 linear ft.) and 78 35-mm.
The collection is open for research. The copyright for the plates does
not reside with UCLA. Some plates, mostly of conifers and other California
trees, have been published by the University of California Press or
Cachuma Press; rights to these plates will pass into the public domain in
2012. Contact the History & Special Collections Division of the
Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library, UCLA, for further information.