Art and Nature: Three Centuries of Natural History Art from Around the World

Judith Magee, Greystone (PGW, dist.), $50 (256p) ISBN 978-0-565-09244-3
Magee (The Art and Science of William Bartram), manager of art collections at the library of London's Natural History Museum, brings a most welcome perspective to her subject: the visual description of plants and animals for the purpose of scientific study. It is at once a history of the medium and an account of the great age of exploration in the late 17th to 19th centuries, when Europeans set sail to all corners of the globe for purposes of trade and scientific discovery. Throughout the Age of Enlightenment, the artists who took part in these missions documented the natural world around them, producing a body of work that was both aesthetically significant and scientifically useful. As Magee explores the subject continent by continent, the sumptuous illustrations give the reader a wonderful sense of the range of work of these artist/explorers. Written in a straightforward style, this highly informative book delves not only into the historical evolution of the genre and its artists but emerges as a thoughtful consideration of the social context out of which it developed. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/29/2010
Release date: 00/00/0000
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