Historia animalium by Conrad Gesner, Henry Nicholls
De urso, from Conrad Gesner’s Historia Animalium

Last month, I hosted a post by historian Florike Egmond on my Guardian blog Animal Magic, one that proved incredibly popular.

A few years ago, Egmond was in the Amsterdam University Library when she discovered an amazing collection of 16th-century drawings and watercolours of animals collected by the founding father of zoology Conrad Gessner and his fellow Swiss successor Felix Platter. These and many more illustrations feature in her new book on early modern natural history illustration, Eye For Detail (Reaktion Books, 2017) and I invited Egmond (with the kind permission of Amsterdam University Library) to put together a gallery of some of these amazing illustrations.

Inspired, I flipped through an online copy of Historia Animalium (on the brilliant website archive.org). I was able to locate many of the reproductions of many of Egmond’s originals, but I love this engraving of a bear, with its beautifully rendered fur.

Gessner’s bear
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