Artefact of the month - November
This is a fascinating and unlikely woodcut illustration in a book by Pierre Belon, a pioneer of comparative anatomy and one of the first naturalist-explorers!
|Comparison of a human and bird skeleton, woodcut, 1555|
It is printed in one of the earliest books in the ZSL Library, L’histoire de la nature des oyseaux, avec leurs descriptions, & naifs portraicts. (The history and nature of birds) par Pierre Belon du Mans published in 1555.
The book itself is a remarkable achievement, it was published in French at a time when most books were in Latin and it contains 14 woodcuts depicting a variety of birds, these were based on specimens collected by Belon from markets throughout Europe. He also travelled in the Near East collecting specimens and information.
ZSL Library also has two other books by Pierre Belon: L'histoire naturelle des estranges poissons marins, avec la vraie peincture & description du daulphin, & de plusieurs autres de son espèce, observée, (The natural history of strange/foreign fish) published in 1551 and La nature & diversité des poissons, (The nature and diversity of fish) published in 1555. He also contributed to the fish and aquatic animal sections of Conrad Gesner’s Historiae animalium.
Sadly, at the age of 47 Pierre Belon was murdered by robbers in April 1564 while gathering herbs in the Bois de Boulogne, Paris.
Cataloguing of ZSL artworks
The Michael Marks Trust has provided funding for the cataloguing of the artworks in ZSL’s collections. An online catalogue to the artworks can be searched via the ZSL Library Catalogue , use the `Search artworks’ button on the sidebar.