The art and science of Rosamond Purcell


We'll say it again: we love two-headed animals. We also love it when art and science work together. So we really can't resist this slideshow on Slate, which combines our two great passions:

Over the years, Boston artist Rosamond Purcell has photographed goliath beetles and translucent bats culled from the backrooms of natural history museums; a collection of teeth pulled by Peter the Great [editor's note: that's them above]; moles flayed by naturalist Willem Cornelis van Heurn; and scores of worn and weathered objects. ... In their second collaboration, Finders Keepers (1992), Purcell and [Stephen Jay] Gould delve into the remains of eight historical collections, including that of Peter the Great of Russia. Some of these collectors themselves mined other people's wares. Peter the Great built a "cabinet of curiosities" inspired by the premier European scientific collections and wonder cabinets of the day, buying taxidermic preparations, skeletons, and wet specimens from a myriad of sources. (Purcell features his two-headed sheep and four-legged rooster.) He also bought a collection of anatomical specimens from Dutch physician Frederik Ruysch, who was known for embalming fetuses and creating montages in which arteries and veins might serve as "trees" and coils of intestine might represent snakes or worms.

There's more Purcellania, including an audio clip of the artist herself, here.