The Paper Zoo: Five Hundred Years of Animals in Art available to buy at Museum Bookstore

The Paper Zoo: Five Hundred Years of Animals in Art

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'There are plenty of masterpieces here, from gorgeous illustrations of sea anemones and delightful black and white monkeys to ‘borderline animals’ (half-imaginary, half real) like a many-legged stick insect and a "Domesticated Female Orang Outang" wearing a jaunty striped kerchief' - Wall Street Journal

A fascinating book tracing the varied and vital role of natural history illustration in science and art since the fifteenth century

In this beautiful book, historian of science Charlotte Sleigh draws on the British Library archives to present a collection of nature illustrations from manuscripts, prints, drawings, and rare printed books from across the world.

Sumptuous images from giants of the genre - such as the birds of John J. Audubon, or the insects of Maria Sybilla Merian - accompany less familiar but equally intriguing illustrations from manuscripts, journals, and rare printed books.

Charlotte Sleigh shows how the styles and purposes of natural history illustration evolved, from animal alphabets to the extraordinary productions of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century naturalists and explorers recording and classifying the living world. She pays tribute to the achievements of little-known, unsung painters and colourists, alongside famous artists, in this mighty endeavour of collecting, defining and exhibiting animal life on the page.

One of The Spectator's Art Books of the Year 2016.

Details
  • Author: Charlotte Sleigh
  • Hardcover: 256 pages | 250 colour illustrations
  • Date published: September 2016
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 978-0712357432
  • Product Dimensions: 28.0 x 22.0 cm
Reviews
'Pictures can be sources of knowledge. Without them, indeed, some studies would be difficult or impossible to pursue. How could you define and describe innumerable types of animals, birds, and insects using words alone? Sleigh, a historian of science, takes zoological illustration as her theme in The Paper Zoo. Some examples are as cute as the title might suggest. Others, such as Robert Hooke’s drawing of a louse clinging to a human hair seen through a microscope in 1665, distinctly less so. But although accuracy, not beauty, was their point, many are nonetheless beautiful' - Spectator 

'Exploring five hundred years of animals in art and featuring the exotic, native, domestic, and paradoxical, Sleigh’s splendid book is alive with marvellous images, accompanied by a superb text' - Irish Times

'One of the top five illustrated books of the year. The Paper Zoo focuses firmly on the planet’s biodiverse past, rummaging through the British Library’s wealth of natural history illustrations spanning five hundred years. Science historian Sleigh leads us through an ark of beasts from the exotic to the ‘paradoxical’, limned by greats of scientific illustration. Robert Hooke’s eighteenth-century microscopic menagerie of drone flies and lice jostle with natural historian John Ray’s Dürer-like renderings of fish from the 1680s. The nineteenth-century art ranges further South; my favourite is an anonymous double portrait of langurs (one black, one white) staring sagely out in mid-snack' - Nature

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