Monday, May 15, 2006

The Shell Book

2 years before his death in 1797 Joachim Johann Nepomuk Anton Spalowsky issued the remarkable treatise on conchology, Prodromus in Systema Historicum Testaceorum. It was published with both latin and german text and the 13 plates were engraved and coloured by hand in water colour and gouache, often with gold and silver leaf beneath the paint to produce an effect resembling iridescence.

Spalowsky was from the present day Czech Republic and was a surgeon for the civic military in Vienna and a member of the Royal Science Society of Prague. He was wide ranging in his authorship, producing works on poisonous plants, economics and numismatics, birds and mammals. Following his death, Spalowsky's wife found a patron in Prinz Carl Ludwig whom I presume assisted in selling the unsold copies. The lasting value of the work is in the illustrations although Spalowsky did provide descriptions for some new species of molluscs.

The Smithsonian Institution have a complete copy online of an 1801 edition (containing a dedication to Ludwig) of Prodromus in Systema Historicum Testaceorum in large format with biographic and bibliographic details.
[I cleaned up some of the background in the above image details]


Heather said...

Beautiful illustrations! Thank you for posting about this. Really interesting blog

Catalina said...

Thank you! very inspiring. Do you do some art?

peacay said...

Thank you.


Would it were I had the craft
to etch or draw some switch of art
To leave my mark upon the world
in beauty through my hand unfurled

But my mind's eye although replete
with visions vivid and complete
Has so far failed to understand
just how to transport thought to hand

Instead I choose to sublimate
the muse within through cut 'n' paste
And should the crops and dabs succeed
the artiste within smiles vicariously

If we all had gifts to share
of genius paintings full of flair
No sifting for the cream required
then this BibliOdyssey would be retired ;- )

Catalina said...

This is one of my favorite blogs! Collage? I love it! love your poetry.......

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