Thursday, October 4, 2007

Freaks or Schott's Physica curiosa

Gaspar Schott was one of the most respected scholars of his age. A Jesuit, Schott studied in Rome and taught in Palermo before returning to Augsburg, Germany where he taught and wrote until his death. Although the four volume Magia universalis naturae et artis was probably his most famous work, Physica curiosa was certainly the most visually arresting and is one of the largest and most densely illustrated of the many "books of curiosity" that flourished during the 16th and 17th centuries. Physica curiosa includes descriptions and depictions of human "monsters" (no doubt inspired by descriptions of real birth anomalies), marvels of the animal world, and mythological creatures such as Satyrs and Centaurs, the existence of which was considered credible by Schott and his contemporaries. Many of the images found here were used in earlier books and found their way into numerous works of the period.
(via Iowa Library)

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