Two Butterflies and a Moth with a Branche of Red Currant. Watercolor and body-colour, on contemporary black- and goldruled beige card mount. 25,6:20 cm.
Entomological drawing of Albertus Sebas‘s famous cabinet. Seba was an Amsterdam apothecary and a leading figure in the international scientific community. He formed two of the greatest and most famous natural history cabinets of the 18th century, which he generously opened to scholars and scientists.
In 1717, he sold his first cabinet to the Russian Czar, Peter the Great and immediately began forming an even more extensive cabinet. He was able to take advantage of Amsterdam‘s preeminent position in overseas trade to collect exotic and rare specimens. Seba bought and traded mussels, snails, snakes, fishes, shellfishes, spiders insects and plants from returning sailors. Thanks to the skills of artists and etchers, these unknown and strange specimens were documented and then brought to life in pleasingly combined compositions.
This was published in four volumes as: Locupletissimi rerun naturalium thesauri descriptio, the first two issued between 1734 and Seba‘s death in 1736, and the final volumes appearing posthumously. We can not be sure whether the drawings are from his second collection or from the first cabinet before their removal to Russia in 1717.