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The work of verbal picturing for John Ray and Some of his contemporaries

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2010
<mark>Journal</mark>Intellectual History Review
Issue number1
Number of pages15
Pages (from-to)165-179
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date5/03/10
<mark>Original language</mark>English


By far the largest part of Nehemiah Grew’s account of a seventeenth‐century collection of rarities, his Musæum Regalis Societatis (1685) is taken up with ‘thick’, verbal descriptions of things in the Royal Society’s repository. Not only, Grew suggests, do his descriptions serve to signify the contents of his collection, but they enable us to discern among species and to think about the collection’s pieces in new ways. Verbal descriptions did not just signify things in the Royal Society’s collection, but had the capacity to alter their meanings. The essay discusses the ‘picturing’ of natural things in Early Modern Europe with little direct reference to the contemporary media of graphic representation – drawings, engravings, paintings etc. – in order to highlight the role of the then most widely used, but now least discussed of these media, verbal descriptions.