Gessner drawings University of Amsterdam

This follows on from an earlier post.

Press Release, 6 March 2012, University of Amsterdam

Original examples of drawings for the renowned 16th-century works of zoologist Conrad Gessner are now on display at the University of Amsterdam’s (UvA) Bijzondere Collecties (Special Collections).

The two Swiss albums filled with beautiful drawings are managed by the UvA’s Bijzondere Collecties. They include examples used for Historiae Animalium (1551–1558), the renowned zoological work of doctor and naturalist Conrad Gessner. This has been established through the meticulous research of Researcher Florike Egmond. Gessner’s albums can be viewed from Thursday 8 March until 15 March in the hall of the Bijzondere Collecties at the UvA, Oude Turfmarkt 129 in Amsterdam.

The beauty of the images lies in the striking, often realistic examples, which have been pasted into two unique albums. They were created in Basel by the famous anatomist and natural historian Felix Platter (1536-1614), who was a student and friend of Gessner. How the albums later came into the possession of the Remonstrant Community in Amsterdam is not known. Since 1878, the library of the Remonstrant Community has been on permanent loan to the UvA’s library. The library is managed by the UvA’s Bijzondere Collecties.

Together, the Gessner albums contain 369 pages of watercolour drawings. One album contains images of fish, crabs, lobsters, shell fish and other marine life. The other contains images of various mammals, including dogs, sheep and deer, along with panthers, tigers and camels, as well as insects, reptiles and amphibians. Differences in style suggest that the drawings were produced by different artists.

About Conrad Gessner

Historiae Animalium earned the Swiss doctor and naturalist Conrad Gessner (1516–1565) the title of founding father of zoology. In this four-volume work, Gessner attempted to summarise everything that was known at the time about animal species. The illustrations played a seminal role, with 812 of more than 3,000 pages containing woodblock prints of a wide range of animals, including a print of a rhinoceros produced by Albrecht Dürer.

About Florike Egmond

Dr. M.F. (Florike) Egmond Works as a researcher for the NOW-financed project “Re-Reading the Book of Nature”, allied to Leiden University. Her research focuses on the history of plant and animal science in Europe in the early-modern period. Among other things, her publications cover the botanist Carolus Clusius and the Whale Book (Walvisboek) by Adriaen Coenen.


The albums from Gessner can be viewed from Monday 8 March until 15 March in the hall of the Bijzondere Collecties at the UvA, Oude Turfmarkt 129, Amsterdam.

Note to the Editor:

For further information, images and appointments please contact:

Marian Mulder, Communicatie & PR Bijzondere Collecties of the UvA:, +31 20–5256042/7300 or +31 6–22424378

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4 Responses to Gessner drawings University of Amsterdam

  1. Pingback: Florike Egmond on Re-discovering the Gessner & Platter animal drawings | Origins of Science as a Visual Pursuit

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