Il Bestario Barocco: The Feather Book

Came across an interesting oddity yesterday, The Feather Book. Made in 1618 by Dionisio Minaggio, Chief Gardener of the State of Milan, it is a book depicting 112 birds and 44 human figures, each composed entirely of natural, undyed birds’ feathers. It is separated into 4 sections themed: birds, hunters, tradesmen, musicians and Commedia del’Arte figures. This book contains some of the earliest efforts to depict behavior rather than simply showing birds sitting in profile, and the feathers used are among the oldest preserved samples in existence. Neat. The images themselves strike me as having what we might today call an “outsider art” kind of feeling, whether due to the difficulty inherent in the materials, the meticulous obsessiveness certainly required to complete them, or the apparent lunacy of some of the subjects, I’m not sure. They’re pretty amazing. See below for a sampling.

06.23. filed under: art. !. books. history.


Fascinating! thank you very much for posting this.

posted on 06.23 at 01:22 PMmisteraitch


Fantastic stuff thanks. I’d seen the book/site before but the additional article answered a lot of my questions. I notice they say the bird material was undyed and I wonder, as the colours are still so vibrant, whether the book having been nearly glued together had helped preserve it that way. Also, now that the pages are individually mounted and open to the light (I think) whether fading will accelerate. McGill must be vvvv happy having such a masterpiece.

posted on 06.23 at 01:35 PMpeacay


It’s funny that you two jokers were the first to comment… usually when I post something along these lines I at least do a precursory search to see whether one or both of you had already covered the subject. Cant tell you how many times I’ve simply abandoned a post on realizing you guys had already stripped its bones. In this case I was too lazy and just figured, “hell, no harm in posting something again” and here it turns out I actually found something as of yet untrodden by your 4 very well travelled feet! I’m shocked. Glad you guys liked it.

posted on 06.23 at 03:21 PMjmorrison


exquisite! thanks!
again i’m amazed by the richness and imaginative of the past

posted on 06.24 at 03:59 AMmoon

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