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Amazing Rare Things: The Art of Natural…

Amazing Rare Things: The Art of Natural History in the Age of Discovery

by David Attenborough

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David Attenborough geeking out over Da Vinci sketches. If that doesn't sound awesome to you, neither do I. ( )
  AlCracka | Apr 2, 2013 |
This wonderful book contains works of natural history by Leonardo Da Vinci, The Paper Museum collection, Alexander Marshal, Maria Sibylla Merian and Mark Catesby. The color plates are a treasure. I viewed this exhibition in 2007 at Holyrood House. These very works inspired my launch into botanical art.
Reviewed by Linda C. Miller ( )
  hrcvmn | Apr 13, 2011 |
Subtitled "The Art of Natural History in the Age of Discovery" - this book has chapters focused on 5 different artists mostly from the 17th and 18th century (plus Leonardo Da Vinci from the 15th-16th C). There are brief biological sketches for each, and short descriptions about their methods of research. But the bulk of the book is devoted to prints of the art produced by these people. This is, essentially, a small-format coffee table book more intended to be admired than read. Heavy paper and beautiful full-color illustrations make the book a delight, but there is very little textual content. ( )
  sjmccreary | Oct 4, 2009 |
Borrowed from the library and very impressed with it - the paintings are well reproduced and the text just about the right length - ie they give you a reasonable amount of background information yet do not drag on too much. They are also very readable. The book has made me want to see the exhibition while it is in London and put the book on my wishlist as a permanent memento ( )
  fancett | May 8, 2008 |
I'm a sucker for natural history illustration, so I couldn't miss a new book out from Yale, Amazing Rare Things: The Art of Natural History in the Age of Discovery. Highlighting paintings held in the Royal Collections, the book features beautifully-reproduced artwork by Leonardo da Vinci, Alexander Marshal, Maria Sibylla Merian and Mark Catesby, as well as a selection of those works collected by Cassiano dal Pozzo for his "paper museum." Each section includes an essay on the artist's background and his/her works; these are good introductions to the illustrators and complement the chosen illustrations well.

David Attenborough contributed the introduction to the book, noting that for all the different purposes behind the creation of natural history art, "there is a common denominator that links all these artists. It is the profound joy felt by all who observe the natural world with a sustained and devoted intensity." Attenborough also intersperses short comments amongst the essays and plates; these you can almost hear him reading in that distinctive voice of his.

A lovely book, one which I shall browse often.

http://philobiblos.blogspot.com/2007/08/book-review-amazing-rare-things.html ( )
  JBD1 | Aug 9, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 030012547X, Hardcover)

From the fifteenth century onwards, as European explorers sailed forth on grand voyages of discovery, their encounters with exotic plants and animals fanned intense scientific interest. Scholars began to examine nature with fresh eyes, and pioneering artists transformed the way nature was seen and understood. In Amazing Rare Things, renowned naturalist and documentary-maker David Attenborough joins with expert colleagues to explore how artists portrayed the natural world during this era of burgeoning scientific interest.


The book focuses on an exquisite selection of natural history drawings and watercolors by Leonardo da Vinci, Alexander Marshal, Maria Sibylla Merian, and Mark Catesby, and from the collection of Cassiano dal Pozzo—works all held in the Royal Library at Windsor Castle. Attenborough and his coauthors offer lucid commentary on topics ranging from the 30,000-year history of human drawings of the natural world, to Leonardo’s fascination with natural processes, to Catesby’s groundbreaking studies that introduced Europeans to the plants and animals of North America. With 160 full color illustrations, this beautiful book will appeal to readers with interests that extend from art and science to history and nature.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:26 -0400)

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Describes the methods by which selected European artists, from Leonardo Da Vinci to Mark Catesby, portrayed the natural world during the Age of Discovery.

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