Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Feather Book of Dionisio Minaggio

In 1618, a gardener in Milan created a book of birds where the illustrations were made almost entirely from bird feathers. The majority of images in Dionisio Minaggio's The Feather Book are of birds indigenous to the Lombardy region of Italy at the time, but it also contained sets of other illustrations depicting hunters, tradesmen, musicians, and commedia dell'arte characters.

From McGill University Library:
"[The pictures] are complete with beaks and claws and, in a few cases, you can also see the skin of the head underneath the feathers. They may, in fact, represent the oldest collection of bird feathers - as bird specimens - in existence. In one image, the bird is eating a chameleon and in another, the bird has its tongue out and is scooping up insects from the bark of the tree on which it is perched. In one case, the leaves of the tree are present. There are also a couple of parrots and a bustard (probably) which are not native to Italy but the birds and/or their descriptions may have come from sailors visiting the city."

[h/t: Hyperallergic]

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