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Renaissance Naturalists And Animal Symbolism: Fact And Fantasy

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Chapter Summary

Progress of experimental science and the humanist revival of classical texts were two major factors in precipitating a turning point in the history of zoological literature and illustration by the late fifteenth century. While more objective ways of looking at animals were introduced, this did not necessarily entail a rejection of the allegorical tradition in Renaissance naturalist studies. This chapter examines two contributions that represent stages of transition. The Bestiaries of the Fifteenth Century:The Monsters of Pier Candido Decembrio's De animantium naturis and The Timid Hare and Lustful Camel: Leonardo da Vinci's Bestiary. The chapter then clarifies the relationship between innovative and traditional elements in the zoological literature of the sixteenth century. Symbolism and empirical naturalism coexisted in Leonardo's art. Fact and fantasy existed side by side.

Keywords: allegorical tradition; animal symbolism; empirical naturalism; Leonardo da Vinci; Pier Candido Decembrio; Renaissance naturalist studies



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