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A gorgeous show of nature paintings from the "age of discovery" reveals some surprising parallels with the strategies of artists today

By Ben Lewis   May 2008

The exhibition of early natural history drawings on display at the Queen’s Gallery in Buckingham Palace, with its array of images of precious stones, fruits, birds, insects and animals, as accurate as they are delicate, will please those with the most conservative and unadventurous tastes. However, these genteel people may be perturbed to hear that they will also be having a “contemporary art experience.” The aesthetic effects they are responding to in these images are all fundamental features of contemporary and conceptual art.

The gorgeous and hypnotic images on show, taken from illustrated natural history books from the “age of…

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