GRAPHIC:  University of Chicago Magazine
Classified Knowledge
Captions are drawn from exhibition descriptions by Naomi Hume, a graduate student in art history.
IMAGE:  Classified Knowledge

Catalog as collection

Albert Seba (1665–1736). Locupletissimi rerum naturalium thesauri accurata descriptio. Amsterdam: apud J. Wetstenium, 1734–1765. Volume 1.

In exchange for exotic specimens Albert Seba offered medicines and treatments to sailors and other travelers returning to Amsterdam from far-flung journeys. After his death, his family sold his natural history collection to fund completion of its catalog. In this frontispiece portrait he holds a jar containing a preserved snake; specimens line the shelves behind him. He points to shells on a table, on which also lie loose sheets of drawings and a bound volume. His pose calls attention to the process of creating the published books that would preserve his collection for posterity. Indeed, years later Carl von Linné frequently used the catalog in his work devising the taxonomic system for plants and animals still in use today.

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