On View In:
Gallery 316
Artist:   Friedrich Ruysch
Joseph Mulder
after Joannem Wolters  
Title:   Tab. VII. Fig. I, II., from "Thesaurus Animalium"  
Date:   1710  
Medium:   Etching  
Dimensions:   12 1/2 x 7 1/2 in. (31.75 x 19.05 cm) (sheet)  
Credit Line:   The Minnich Collection The Ethel Morrison Van DerLip Fund, 1966  
Location:   Gallery 316  

Despite his professional reputation as a scientist, the botanist and anatomist Frederick Ruysch had a strong emotional connection to the objects that were part of his collection of naturalia. For instance he used to arrange them in still lifes and surrealistic landscapes, using kidneystones or gallstones as rocks, populating them with skeletons arranged in theatrical poses (even weeping in an handkerchief) complete with inscriptions alluding to the vanity of life. Ruysch also invented a solution to preserve human organs and other organic material. He kept specimens in jars whose lids were topped with dioramas of natural—or natural looking—objects, that often alluded to the contents. In this etching from Thesaurus animalium, he composed a phantasy marine landscape of shells and dubious-looking coral. Judging from their appearance, the coral branches were actually hardened blood vessels, dyed coral-red. Despite their educational intent, these arrangements crossed the boundaries between science and showmanship, revealing the owner’s black humor and morbid delight in the macabre.

Name:   Mulder, Joseph  
Role:   Engraver  
Nationality:   Dutch  
Life Dates:   Dutch, 1659/60 – 1735  
Name:   Ruysch, Friedrich  
Nationality:   Dutch  
Life Dates:   Dutch, 1637 - 1731  
Name:   Wolters, Joannem  

Object Description  
Inscriptions:   Inscription "J. Mulder ad vivum sculp 1710"  
Classification:   Prints  
Creation Place:   Europe, Holland, , , Amsterdam  
Accession #:   P.18,738  
Owner:   The Minneapolis Institute of Arts