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Object Lessons

Object Lessons

The Visualisation of Nineteenth-Century Life Sciences

By (author) George Loudon
Contributions by Robert McCracken Peck
Contributions by George Loudon
Contributions by Lynne Cooke
Photographs by Rosamond Purcell


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  • George Loudon is prolific collector of both contemporary art and over 200 nineteenth-century scientific objects depicting the natural world
  • As Loudon has said, these fascinating, otherworldly and sometimes bizarre treasures, from elephant-bird eggs to glass models of jellyfish, "are no more shocking than the young art that hangs on my walls", including works by Damien Hirst and Georgina Starr
  • A fascinating and unusual insight into the history of collecting and the intersection of art and science, in objects drawn from all over the world, from Europe to Japan to North America
  • This publication is lavishly illustrated by Rosamond Purcell, a noted photographer of the natural world
Full Description

“Object Lessons … is a grand tour of the latest obsession of an indefatigable collector. For the last decade … George Loudon has gathered some 200 extraordinary natural-history specimens, scientific models and botanical drawings from the Darwinian age. And the Boston photographer Rosamond Purcell has documented every last one of them in this thoughtfully compiled, scrapbook-style compendium.” – The New York Times Style Magazine

Assembling nearly 200 pieces from the collection of George Loudon, this volume encompasses a vast assortment of objects relating to nineteenth-century life sciences. Originally designed to capture the complex structures of nature, they range from books and illustrations to botanical specimens and anatomical models. Having lost most of their original pedagogical function over time, the objects are now open for contemporary reappraisal – acquiring new values that can inspire, seduce and even disorientate today’s viewer. Offering a unique perspective on the intersection of art and science, the historic curiosities in this collection reveal their creators’ remarkable capacity for artistic expression.

Alongside new images by celebrated photographer Rosamond Purcell, explanatory texts on the objects by Loudon, an essay by Robert McCracken Peck, and a conversation between Loudon and art historian Lynne Cooke together offer insight into the objects’ original context and potential for new perspectives.

About the Author

George Loudon is a UK-based collector of art and objects, a selection of which were exhibited at the Whitechapel Gallery in 2018–19. Born in the Netherlands, he formerly worked in the financial sector.

Lynne Cooke is Senior Curator of Special Projects in Modern Art at the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. An art scholar who has curated, lectured and written widely, Cooke has held senior positions at the Museo Reina Sofia and Dia Art Foundation and co-curated the 1986 Venice Biennale.

Robert McCracken Peck is Curator of Art and Artefacts and Senior Fellow of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University in the USA. He is a frequent collaborator on projects involving natural, cultural and art history. Rosamond Purcell is a Boston-based photographer best known for her images capturing the natural world.

14th Apr 2022
World excluding USA & Canada
298.45 mm x 244.48 mm
256 Pages
264 color
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