Frontispiece, from "Auserlesene Schnecken, Muscheln, und Andere Schaalthiere" (Selected snails, shells, and other shellfish), 1758

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After moving to Copenhagen to work as an engraver in Denmark’s royal court, the German artist Franz Michael Regenfuss was able to continue working on the book of his dreams: an illustrated treatise on conchology. The result of his work—and that of his wife, who was responsible for beautifully coloring the drawings—was Choix de Coquillages et de Crustaces (“Selected snails, shells, and other shellfish”), published in 1758 in French and in German. The largest book ever to be published on conchology, it contains twelve images of outstanding quality and reflects the passion for shells that was sweeping Europe: to know, to own, and to display shells had become a hallmark of taste and refinement. Regenfuss’s work belongs to this vogue. Instead of a zoological system, it employs a solely aesthetic arrangement for the specimens, which are displayed like jewels (a “choice,” as the title declares)—a great joy for the eyes.

Details
Title
Frontispiece, from "Auserlesene Schnecken, Muscheln, und Andere Schaalthiere" (Selected snails, shells, and other shellfish)
Artist Life
German, 1712-1780
Role
Artist
Accession Number
P.19,088
Catalogue Raisonne
Benezit; Text
Curator Approved

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