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Monstrosities Illustrated

Illustrations in the 1665 edition of Fortunio Liceti’s ‘De Monstris’. The book itself was published in 1616 but there were no illustrations to embellish it.


17th century was a golden age for any kinds of curiosities: pygmies, supposed mermaids, deformed fetuses, conjoined twins and other natural marvels were put on display and widely discussed, becoming the circus freak-shows of their time.

Fortunio Liceti had a very modern approach to such abnormalities. This is his view on the topic:

“It is said that I see the convergence of both Nature and art,’ wrote Liceti, ‘because one or the other not being able to make what they want, they at least make what they can.”

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