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Still life with naturalia

A recent visit to the Dutch national museum of natural history Naturalis brought the inspiration for this personal project. Their most recent exhibition ‘Naturalia’ features “stuffed animals, skeletons, specimens in alcohol and curiosities from the University of Amsterdam’s Zoological Museum.” Among its treasures are the stuffed remains of the last remaining quagga (a now-extinct subspecies of the plains zebra) to die in captivity on the 12th of August 1883 in Natura Artis Magistra, Amsterdam.

I always had a love for natural history museums. To experience the sheer joy of just wandering around in its many halls and marvel about the diversity and beauty of life. Of course, there is also the lingering echo of past explorations and adventures. For me – every visit is an almost spiritual one. I’m sure there are many more (amateur) naturalists who might relate to this 🙂

When I was little I was the very proud owner of two shelves in my bedroom filled with the many wonders of my own explorations into the natural world. I never stopped collecting in fact, as is illustrated by the above photograph. It displays my most recent acquisition: a replica skull of a sabertooth cat (Smilodon californicus), found in the La Brea Tar Pits.

For this project, I wanted to evoke still life sceneries from paintings from the 17th century. For this project, I constructed an indoor studio with artificial lighting plus I used a light tent for additional supporting shots. Some of the results can be seen below.

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