Cabinet of Natural Curiosities: Paintings in Color 1734-1765by Albertus Seba
Albertus Seba's "Cabinet of Natural Curiosities" is one of the 18th century's greatest natural history achievements and remains one of the most prized natural history books of all time. Though it was common for men of his profession to collect natural specimens for research purposes, Amsterdam based pharmacist Albertus Seba (1665-1736) had a passion that led him far beyond the call of duty.
His amazing, unprecedented collection of animals, plants and insects from all around the world gained international fame during his lifetime. In 1731, after decades of collecting, he commissioned illustrations of each and every specimen and arranged the publication of a four-volume catalogue detailing his entire collection from strange and exotic plants to snakes, frogs, crocodiles, shellfish, corals, insects, butterflies and more, as well as fantastic beasts such as a seven-headed hydra.
The beautiful illustrations transport these creatures from the scientific world of specimens into extremely aesthetic and vivid scenes, where plants and animals intermingle. It is this narrative element that continues to lend the book much of its special fascination.
This magnificent reproduction of all 449 of the original plates is taken from a rare, hand-coloured copy at the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, The Hague. The introduction provides background information on the intriguing tradition of the cabinet of curiosities to which Seba's collection belonged, while an additional annex written by contemporary scientists provides descriptions of the specimens.
A journey into the past and simultaneously a road to rediscovering the wonders of Nature, which remain as vital as ever.
Dr. Irmgard M�sch, born in 1967, studied art history, history and classical archaeology in Mainz and Berlin. Her 1999 Ph.D. thesis examines Johann Jakob Scheuchzer's Kupfer-Bibel, a richly illustrated scientific commentary on the Bible from the early 18th century. She has published on art of the 18th and 20th century, scientific illustrations and Kunstkammer pieces. Today she is a curator at the W�rttembergische Landes museum.
Prof. Dr. Rainer Willmann, born in 1950, holds the chair of morphology, taxonomy and evolutionary biology at the Institute of Zoology and Anthropology of the University of G�ttingen. In some 120 publications he has addressed the phylogeny of insects, snail evolution, and historical and theoretical issues in biology. He is co-founder of the Research Centre for Biodiversity and Ecology at the University of G�ttingen.
Prof. Dr. Jes Rust, born in 1963, completed his studies in geology, paleontology and zoology at G�ttingen and Kiel. His thesis dealt with the evolution of fossil snails living in the fresh and brackish waters of prehistoric Greece. His assistantship at the Institute of Zoology in G�ttingen between 1993 and 1999 was followed by his appointment in 2001 as professor of invertebrate paleontology and insect phylogeny at the University of Bonn.
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