Thursday, July 5, 2007

Amazing Rare Things

"Nightjar and mole cricket" by Mark Catesby, c.1722-6

I bought a book yesterday... one of these see-it-and-grab-it buys. It's the book accompanying David Attenborough's exhibition of natural history illustrations from the age of Discovery which is on show in Edinburgh. I very much want to see it, and HOORAY it will caome to London next year. Anyway, the book is lovely... the only flaw is the one that many illustrated books have these days: some of the pictures are jpegged. It's shameful really. What is the point in printing a wonderful image over a full page and then giving a "detail" on the next which isn't a true detail view but just a chunk picked out of the earlier file and blown up regardless of resolution? You'd think if Sir David says "I want to have a close up view of this tiny Da Vinci drawing from the royal collection in my new book" the Queen would say "Here you go, and make sure you have it scanned at high res", no?
Anyway, it is a wonderful book... there's beautiful samples from the Paper Museum of Cassiano dal Pozzo, and a sheet of studies by Leonardo da Vinci of cats and lions, bristling and moving and fighting, plus one dragon amongst them, looking like it just crossed his mind that dragons are maybe built like cats with long necks and tails. (click on link and zoom in to see)!

Inspired me to sit down and really do those anatomical nightmare monster studies today.

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