Sole, from Pierre Belon, De Aquatilibus, 1553.
Paper nautilus, from Pierre Belon, De Aquatilibus, 1553.

4. Belon, Pierre (1517?-1564).
De Aquatilibus, Libri Duo cum Eiconibus ad Viuam Effigiem ... Expressis.  Paris: apud Carolum Stephanum, 1553.

Pierre Belon was a physician of  southern France who published a number of books on fish, birds, and other exotic animals.  His volume on aquatic animals is unusual in its oblong format, which however seems quite suitable for displaying fish, which are generally oblong themselves.  Belon was quite an admirer of Aristotle, but he held few other naturalists in high esteem, and so his books contain quite a bit of personal observation and description, which contrasts him with Gesner.

Belon took pride in the fact that most of his images were drawn from life, and he stated this fact right in the title.  His woodcut of the sole, with its two eyes looking right at you, was original with this book, as was the wonderful paper nautilus, sailing along on the high seas.  It is not surprising that when Gesner later published the volume on aquatic animals for his natural history, he borrowed freely (and with full credit) from Belon’s works.

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