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Amazing Rare Things: The Art of Natural History in the Age of Discovery Paperback – September 29, 2009


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Amazing Rare Things: The Art of Natural History in the Age of Discovery + Albertus Seba: Cabinet of Natural Curiosities + Art Forms in Nature: The Prints of Ernst Haeckel
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Kales Press; Trade Paperback Edition edition (September 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0979845629
  • ISBN-13: 978-0979845628
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 0.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #864,081 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Beginning with Leonardo da Vinci, this historical overview of scientific illustrators between the late 1400s and the mid-1700s includes beautiful, intricate specimens from the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the British Natural History Museum, among others. Filmmaker Attenborough provides an introductory survey of the artistic representation of plants and animals through human history; succeeding chapters focus on five figures-four artists and one collector-none of whom are well-known in either scientific or art history circles. Cassiano dal Pozzo proves an eager and curious antiquarian, a church functionary in Rome who amassed a remarkable collection of illustrations featuring everything from ancient Roman artifacts, minerals and fossils to newly discovered plants and animals. Stunning work by Alexander Marshal, Maria Sibylla Merian and Mark Catesby capture plants and animals in their natural state, including dispatches from the New World and fauna newly arrived from foreign lands. Merian proves most fascinating, working in a time (the late 15th century) when women seldom left their homes, let alone traveled unattended to South America to draw insects and plants in the jungles of Dutch Surinam. A true feast for anyone interested in natural history, this marvelous book makes the underappreciated artworks of a passionate, talented group widely accessible. Color illustrations.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“Starred Review. A true feast . . . marvelous . . . passionate . . . widely accessible.” (Publishers Weekly)

“A book to savor . . . sumptuous . . . transcendent.” (Washington Post)

More About the Author

Sir David Attenborough is Britain's best-known natural history film-maker. His career as a naturalist and broadcaster has spanned nearly five decades and there are very few places on the globe that he has not visited.

Sir David's first job - after Cambridge University and two years in the Royal Navy - was at the London publishing house Hodder & Stoughton. Then in 1952 he joined the BBC as a trainee producer and it was while working on the Zoo Quest series (1954-64) that he had his first opportunity to undertake expeditions to remote parts of the globe to capture intimate footage of rare wildlife in its natural habitat.

He was Controller of BBC2 (1965-68), during which time he introduced colour television to Britain, then Director of Programmes for the BBC (1969-1972). However in 1973 he abandoned administration altogether to return to documentary-making and writing.

Over the last 25 years he has established himself as the world's leading natural history programme maker with several landmark BBC series, including Life on Earth (1979), The Living Planet (1984), The Trials of Life (1990), The Private Life of Plants (1995), Life of Birds (1998), Life of Mammals (2002) and Life in the Undergrowth (2005). Sir David is a Trustee of the British Museum and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; an Honorary Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge; a Fellow of the Royal Society and was knighted in 1985.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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The plates are stunning and the text informative.
Thomas S. Hopkins
Amazing works of art beautifully on display for hours of enjoyment and consideration.
AP
I saw a review of this book in a magazine, and just had to have it.
J. Perkins

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Magdalena Bassett on January 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover
As a botanical illustrator, I purchased this book to learn from the masters, and be able to see these vibrantly colorful illustration in full size. I was not disappointed. The book is beautifully printed on creamy paper, the colors look true, and the design is very elegant. I have returned to it time after time to see the different details, and always find something new. It's a great addition to my botanical wonders library.
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65 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Giordano Bruno on January 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
You'd better read the title of this book carefully before you order it sight unseen. The key word is ART, not 'natural history' or 'age of discovery'. The book is in fact a series of essays about five pioneering scientific illustrators: Leonardo da Vinci, Cassiano dal Pozzo, Alexander Marshal, Maria Sibylla Merian, and Mark Catesby. I certainly don't wish to scoff at the importance of scientific illustration, or to deny that there is no true line between such illustration and fine art. I only wish the book in hand included a good deal more of the illustrations and less of the sometimes rhapsodic texts. As it happens, this is effectively a 'coffee table' book, large format, high quality paper, excellent color printing -- just the kind of book you'd give as a holiday present to an ungrateful lout like me.

Added months later: Since I first looked through this book, I've become deeply impressed by and interested in the lief and work of Maria Sibylla Merian, one of the illustrator-subjects of this book. The plates of her scientific illustrations are phenomenal, and her life was as unique an adventure as that of any woman in Early Modern European history. I refer you to the biographey of her, "Chrysalis", by Kim Todd.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By J. Perkins on February 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I saw a review of this book in a magazine, and just had to have it. It's everything I thought it was and more. I'm savoring it, taking my time with the great illustrations--reading it is like going to a private museum.

I had a great shopping experience also--came in a timely manner, and saved a little by using Amazon.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Sci Fi Lover on May 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was really impressed with the color illustrations of the artists. I was surprised to see that Leonardo Davinci's art was the worst of any artist in the book. I had heard that David Attenborough had not made enough comments in the book according to one Amazon reviewer, but I found that that was not the case. He certainly is the main author of this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ispeakcat on January 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My father, artist and one possessing an advocation as a naturalist, received this for his 95th birthday. He was effusive with joy describing the quality of the art and the fascinating content.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A. Rehm on February 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
David Attenborough technically retired after "Life in Cold Blood" capped his "Life" series, which has now covered every living thing in the world. Now he does whatever he wants, which generally means geeking out over one obscure thing after another; he recently completed a one-hour special about amber, just because he thinks amber is cool. And now there's this, which is basically him waxing geektastic about famous nature illustrators.

Flip through it and find a Da Vinci drawing of a dissected bear's foot on one page, with Attenborough babbling about how kickass that is on the next. If you don't think that sounds awesome, this is not the book for you. Neither am I the friend for you.

It's not all Attenborough - he just wrote the wonderful introduction and contributed extensive comments on many of the plates. Other folks wrote each of the four essays on important figures in natural illustration's history. And I saw a typo in the Da Vinci one, which pissed me off. I hate typos. But this book still totally rules my face.
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22 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Claude Fletcher on January 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I must admit being a little misled by the fact the name David Attenbourough appears above this book's title. I am so fascinated by his Telvision works and the accompanying books, that I buy almost anything with his name on it.
While the book itself is well illustated and well written, I was dissapointed that Sir David's only contribution was the Introduction.
This is a good book for someone with a deep interest in Natural History illustations, but may be a little much for someone with a more fundamental interest in Natural History documentaries.
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21 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Shutterbug on October 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is a work of art. For those interested in natural history, it will make you drool. Splendidly done, and highly recommended!
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