Artis Library’s Animal Print Online Gallery

Caribiana News features the Artis Library and their collection, the Natura Artis Magistra. The article asks, “Ever wondered what a teyu looks like?” A quick search on Google will reveal it is a 30-centimetre-long lizard found in [Surinam] South America. But in the old days, people would have been left guessing. That was until illustrators like Gerrit Schouten (Surinam, 1779-1839) made detailed drawings of all kinds of strange creatures. Amsterdam’s zoo, Artis, has just published its collection of prints of animals online. [Among the over 20,000 prints, many feature animals found in the wider Caribbean region.]

A couple of centuries ago, most Europeans had never seen any animals from Africa. In the late 18th century and early 19th century, the first zoos were built in Europe. Artis was built in 1838. The aim was to entertain the public and enable biologists to study exotic species. But before that explorers would take artists with them on their trips, not just to draw maps, but to illustrate the flora and fauna they encountered on the way. Later artists drew animals in the zoos.

Natura Artis Magistra – better known as Artis zoo – set up its own scientific picture library in 1881: the Iconographia Zoologica. It contains thousands of prints from the 19th and 18th century, some are even older. Over 20,000 of them are now available for viewing on the site Memory of the Netherlands.

 [The drawing above, among others shown in the original article are from the Special Collections, of the Artis Zoo Library. Founded in 1838, the Artis Zoo is located at Plantage Kerklaan 38-40, 1018 CZ Amsterdam, the Netherlands.]

For full article (in English), see

For original article (in Dutch), see

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