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Small teeming animals such as insects, spiders, lizards and toads; these crawly creatures have historically endured a bad reputation. In the Middle Ages they were mainly associated with death and the devil. But in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries their beauty began to be appreciated. Crawly creatures were now the centre of attention: they appeared in works of art, served as the subject of scholarly treatises and became popular collectors’ items.
Artists such as Albrecht Dürer, Wenzel Jamnitzer, Jan van Kessel I and Maria Sibylla Merian observed these critters in painstaking detail and succeeded in depicting them beautifully. Scientists like Robert Hooke and Antoni van Leeuwenhoek were equally mesmerized. The little animals were collected, studied, placed under the microscope and rendered in illustrations. To this day, these creatures feature in the work of visual artists, who present alternative ways of interacting with insects and the natural world.
This richly illustrated publication explores the fascinating relationship between art and science and the way the perceptions of insects and other crawly creatures have evolved over the centuries: from abhorrance to amazement.