I have always been inspired by the lifework of John James Audubon (1785-1851). His illustrations are crisp with detail, rich in color and line, and laid the standard and practice for the future of scientific drawing. It is no wonder his works have inspired artists and naturalists alike.
We are lucky to have one of his large scale illustrated books, Birds of America, at the Huntington Library here in SoCal- I visit the book often and get excited when the page is turned in the big glass case. If you are ever in the area I highly recommend you make the trip to the Huntington.
Here is an image of the book for scale:
More by Audubon: