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12:20pm on August 1st, 2011

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      Ferrante Imperato, Cabinet of Curiosities: Dell’Historia Naturale, Naples, Italy, 1599. The earliest image of a...
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      Black & White Illustrations [451]
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    Ferrante Imperato, Cabinet of Curiosities: Dell’Historia Naturale, Naples, Italy, 1599

    "The earliest pictorial record of a natural history cabinet is the engraving in Ferrante Imperato's Dell’Historia Naturale. It serves to authenticate its author’s credibility as a source of natural history information, in showing his open bookcases at the right, in which many volumes are stored lying down and stacked, in the medieval fashion, or with their spines upward, to protect the pages from dust. Some of the volumes doubtless represent his herbarium. Every surface of the vaulted ceiling is occupied with preserved fishes, stuffed mammals and curious shells, with a stuffed crocodile suspended in the centre. Examples of corals stand on the bookcases. At the left, the room is fitted out like a studiolo with a range of built-in cabinets whose fronts can be unlocked and let down to reveal intricately fitted nests of pigeonholes forming architectural units, filled with small mineral specimens. Above them, stuffed birds stand against panels inlaid with square polished stone samples, doubtless marbles and jaspers or fitted with pigeonhole compartments for specimens. Below them, a range of cupboards contain specimen boxes and covered jars.”