Jahangir’s Turkey: Early Modern Globalization and Exotic Animals

The above image is one of my favorite examples of the bizarre cross-pollinations that early modern globalization brought about. It is a detail from a lavish watercolor painting created in 1618 by Bichitr for the Mughal emperor Jahangir (1569-1627). Here we find the strange juxtaposition of James I and VI of England and Scotland (1566-1625) […]

Witches’ Familiars in 17th Century Europe (February 2011 update)

Detail of a witch feeding her familiars. Woodcut, England, late sixteenth century. The frontispiece (see below) to the witch hunter Mathew Hopkins‘ infamous pamphlet The Discovery of Witches (London, 1647) is a classic image, and rightly so: few texts better evoke the strangeness of the early modern witch hunt. I suppose the author, publisher and […]

Animals in Pisanello

Looking at the paintings of the early Italian Renaissance painter Pisanello just now, I was struck by how wonderfully delicate and accurate his paintings of animals are. If he had lived in a different time or created these images in a different context (one of scientific learning rather than courtly patronage) I’m convinced that Pisanello […]

First post – The History of Four-Footed Beasts

Greetings friends and strangers.This is the first post in a blog, RES OBSCURA, designed to serve as a record of the strange things I come across in the course of my research as a graduate student in early modern (sixteenth through eighteenth century) history.  Early modern visual culture and natural history are special interests of […]