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The naturalists of the early modern period…

The naturalists of the early modern period inherited from their ancient and medieval predecessors various methods of classifying living things. In the course of time, the knowledge of new species of plants and animals increased to such an extent that it was extremely difficult to arrange it according to the old systems of classification and description. The scientists of the 18th-century sought new methods. The French zoologist Comte de Buffon thought that the formulas of the Enlightenment encyclopedia offered the best possibilities. More enduring proved to be the idea of Carl von Linné, who popularized the binomial classification, the basis for all contemporary taxonomy. Systema Naturae, published by this Swedish naturalist, gave confidence that the entire diversity of life could be described by an elegant, simple and elastic method. Thanks to Buffon, Linné, their students and followers, publishers strove to produce esthetically pleasing, multi-volume editions with carefully crafted illustrations that reflected the great richness of nature in astonishing detail.
Illustrations:
Friedrich Drewes, Friedrich Hayne, Botanisches Bilderbuch für die Jugend und Freunde der Pflanzenkunde, Leipzig: Leonhard Voß, 1794-1801.
Pheasant’s eye (Adonis vernalis).
Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea).
Green hellebore (Helleborus viridis).
The portrait of Carl von Linné in the first volume of Vollständiges Pflanzenszstem nach der dreyzehnten lateinischen Ausgabe, Nürnberg: Gabriel Nicolaus Raspe, 1777.

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