May 09, 2004

More ‘Natural Curiosities’

In a previous entry I mentioned Albertus Seba’s ‘Cabinet of Natural Curiosities’, and my none-too-satisfactory efforts to present some images taken from it. This morning, I tried again, this time using the super-macro setting on my digital camera. This, in combination with some basic photoshopping, yielded slightly better results…

Detail from Tabula XXXIII of Volume 1 of Seba's 'Thesaurus'.


Detail from Tabula XXXV of Volume 1 of Seba's 'Thesaurus'.

The present images are all details taken from the first volume of Seba’s ‘Thesaurus’, which is variously concerned with illustrating plants, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds. Above are a two-toed tree-sloth with a small section of a common viper visible to its upper right, and a slender loris with the head of a snake said by Seba to be from Ceylon. Below are a gray four-eyed opossum, again with a small part of a snake (this time a common boa) caught in the frame, and a southern common opossum enjoying what looks like a pear.

Detail from Tabula XXXVI of Volume 1 of Seba's 'Thesaurus'.


Detail from Tabula XXXIX of Volume 1 of Seba's 'Thesaurus'.

Another slender loris pokes its tongue out at us below, as does a chameleon. Below them are a crocodile, and a ‘hydra’. Whilst initially sceptical about the latter beast, Seba came to believe the hydra, purportedly owned by a pair of Hamburg merchants, was ‘definitely not the work of art, but that of Nature.’

Detail from Tabula XLVII of Volume 1 of Seba's 'Thesaurus'.


Detail from Tabula LXXXIII of Volume 1 of Seba's 'Thesaurus'.
The hydra is of a bay colour, which seems to have an ash-grey shading. The back is uneven and bumpy, and one can see on each side six thick welts, oblong and hard as horn, under which are set seven other tubercules of the same nature but round… There is not a single scale on the skin of the main trunk, nor on the seven heads, but it has a marbled colour approaching chestnut. The seven heads are banded in the front section, like transverse rings. All the seven mouths are open equally wide and lined with lion’s teeth. The long tail is completely covered in rhomboid scales. Each foot terminates in toes that are armed with long, sharp claws.
Detail from Tabula CVI of Volume 1 of Seba's 'Thesaurus'.


Detail from Tabula CII of Volume 1 of Seba's 'Thesaurus'.

Click on the images to see them enlarged.

Posted by misteraitch at May 9, 2004 06:53 PM | TrackBack

Amazing stuff! They all have such human expressions in their eyes.

Posted by: mjones on May 9, 2004 08:33 PM

They look great! Thanks.

Posted by: Mark on May 10, 2004 10:06 PM

These are beautiful. So much more graphic & true somehow than a mere photograph.

Posted by: Dick Jones on May 10, 2004 11:33 PM

Am I the only one who thinks they're scary?

Posted by: Claire on May 11, 2004 09:42 PM

No, Claire, you're not. When I said that they had human expressions, well, some of them look like unpleasant humans.

Posted by: mjones on May 12, 2004 01:44 AM


Posted by: mohamned omara on September 16, 2004 12:55 PM
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