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Shell Collecting. On 17th-Century Conchology, Curiosity Cabinets And Still Life Painting

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Chapter Summary

Shell collections in baroque curiosity cabinets came to form the basis for the science of conchology. This chapter sketches some interrelations between the passion for shell collecting in the Baroque era, the beginnings of conchology as a discipline, and the birth of shell still life painting. The initial connections can be found in the 17th-century's intense preoccupation with shells. The chapter discusses certain aspects of these interrelationships. One of the main focuses is on early depictions of shells in art and the natural sciences, which raises questions regarding the place of these creatures in the baroque biological hierarchy. In the 17th century, the specific structures of shells and whelks were investigated and classified. The chapter also discusses various shell books such as Filippo Buonanni's Ricreatione dell'occhio, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek's Observations on Oysters and Martin Lister's Historia Conchyliorum.

Keywords: 17th-century conchology; Baroque era; curiosity cabinets; Historia Conchyliorum; Observations on Oysters; Ricreatione dell'occhio; shell books; shell collections; still life painting



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