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Our changing relationship with the natural world, from Tudor to Victorian times

Louis Renard (c.1678-1746)

Poissons, écrevisses et crabes... que l'on trouve autour des Isles Moluques, et sur les côtes des Terres Australes... 1754

RCIN 1057042

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This book, which was once owned by George III’s tutor, the Earl of Bute, contains drawings of fish and shellfish – and also a mermaid – in a wild variety of colours. The real marine creatures depicted were observed in the seas around the Molucca Islands, now part of Indonesia, and the book was created by Louis Renard, a publisher and spy for the British Crown, who insisted that the animals and their colours were shown accurately. Although several of the species recorded here have subsequently been identified by experts, the book is of little scientific use: it mostly describes how the different fish taste and which sauces would best accompany them.