Medusa's Menagerie: Otto Marseus van Schrieck and the Scholars by Gero Seeling
4to. pp. 232. ENGLISH text. profusely illustrated. quarter cloth, hardcover. Munich: Hirmer, 2018.
New in partially opened publisher's shrink wrap.
ISBN-10: 3777428981 / ISBN-13: 9783777428987
The precision in the works of Otto Marseus van Schriek—the inventor of the sottobosco still life—continue to fascinate viewers to this day. Always directing the viewer’s gaze towards reality, often with gruesome detail, this seventeenth-century Amsterdam painter’s works show a paradigm shift from book-based scholarship to empirical science. Animal and plant studies served as preparation for his paintings, which in fact went on to provide the illustrations to many scientific works in his time.
This porous relationship between art and science fueled van Schriek’s friendships with scholars such as Johannes Swammerdam and Cassiano dal Pozzo, and inspired his membership in a broader international republic of scholars. Titled after one of van Schriek’s most famous paintings, Medusa’s Menagerie situates the artist for the first time within the context of his scholarly contemporaries, revealing an unknown side of the Golden Century of Netherlandish painting, and illuminating how scientific advances influenced the region’s artistic fascination with the dark, the hidden, and the uncanny.