Enfilade

New Book | The Paper Zoo: 500 Years of Animals in Art

Posted in books by Editor on June 27, 2017

From The University of Chicago Press:

Charlotte Sleigh, The Paper Zoo: 500 Years of Animals in Art (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2017), 256 pages, ISBN: 978 022644 7124, $45.

As children, our first encounters with the world’s animals do not arise during expeditions through faraway jungles or on perilous mountain treks. Instead, we meet these creatures between the pages of a book, on the floor of an obliging library. Down through the centuries, illustrated books have served as our paper zoos, both documenting the world’s extraordinary wildlife in exquisite detail and revealing, in hindsight, how our relationship to and understanding of these animals have evolved over time.

In this stunning book, historian of science Charlotte Sleigh draws on the ultimate bibliophile’s menagerie—the collections of the British Library—to present a lavishly illustrated homage to this historical collaboration between art and science. Gathering together a breathtaking range of nature illustrations from manuscripts, prints, drawings, and rare printed books from across the world, Sleigh brings us face to face (or face to tentacle) with images of butterflies, beetles, and spiders, of shells, fish, and coral polyps. Organized into four themed sections—exotic, native, domestic, and paradoxical—the images introduce us to some of the world’s most renowned natural history illustrators, from John James Audubon to Mark Catesby and Ernst Haeckel, as well as to lesser-known artists. In her accompanying text, Sleigh traces the story of the art of natural history from the Renaissance through the great age of exploration and into the nineteenth century, offering insight into the changing connections between the natural and human worlds.

But the story does not end there. From caterpillars to crabs, langurs to dugongs, stick insects to Old English pigs; from the sinuous tail feathers of birds of paradise to the lime-green wings of New Zealand’s enormous flightless parrot, the kakapo; from the crenellated plates of a tortoise’s shell to imagined likenesses of unicorns, mermaids, and dinosaurs, the story continues in this book. It is a Paper Zoo for all time.

Charlotte Sleigh is a reader in history at the University of Kent. She is the author of Ant, Six Legs Better: A Cultural History of Myrmecology, Literature and Science, and Frog.

New NGA Online Edition: French Paintings of the Eighteenth Century

Posted in museums, resources by Editor on June 27, 2017

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This new online component from the NGA in Washington, D.C. includes convenient access to lots of interesting material, including videos (under ‘related content’). It might be particularly useful for teachers looking to enrich course materials with digital offerings (and plenty of other things). CH

In conjunction with the recently opened exhibition, America Collects Eighteenth-Century French Painting, the National Gallery has released a new offering in its NGA Online Editions series, Focus Section—French Paintings of the Eighteenth Century.

The web-based Online Editions series is part of an ongoing effort to digitize and provide open access to the Gallery’s permanent collection catalogs and will eventually document more than 5,000 works of painting, sculpture, and decorative arts. Focus Section—French Paintings of the Eighteenth Century includes essays devoted to 20 paintings and their four related artists’ biographies. Like other Online Editions, this iteration provides free and open access to illustrated scholarly entries, biographies of the artists, and technical summaries.

Other highlights of the features available to researchers include
A customized reading environment: An adjustable split-screen ‘reader mode’ allows users to view scholarly text alongside images, notes, and comparative figures or to view them in line with the text.
Compare and explore images: An image-comparison tool enables users to view primary and comparative images side by side or to explore technical images via overlay and cross-fading techniques.
Ease of research: The Online Editions toolbar provides preformatted citations for an object or biography, easy export, and quick access to archived pages.
Archived versions and permanent URLs: Immediate access to PDFs of earlier versions and the assurance of permanent web addresses are a convenience to students and scholars alike.
Enhanced search capabilities: An interactive search index is driven by an evolving list of terms particular to each area of the collection.

The NGA Online Editions series presents the same authoritative, peer-reviewed scholarship found within the Gallery’s bound volumes but enriched with customized tools for a more dynamic research experience.

 

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