Niccolo Gualtieri was born in 1688 in Florence and lived till 1744.

Gualtieri was an Italian Doctor and Malacologist whose passion was conchology.

Gualtieri was a professor at the University of Pisa. He was amongst the first to depict the argonaut. (A genus of pelagic Octopusses)

In 1708 he moved to Piza to study philosophy and medicine at the University and emerged with a degree in1713. He moved back to Florence to take up the position of Physician to Cosimo 111, Grand Duke of Tuscany. The Duke was a keen collector of shells and had a magnificent cabinet of shells including 360 species sent to him by Rumphius. The Duke had many duplicates which were given to Gualtieri.

He started collecting shells around 1731 when the Tuscan government sent him to Portoferraio on Elba to fight an epidemic, and whilst there, he began to collect and record his shells.

In 1742, he published his “List of the Shells of Shellfish which are preserved in the Museum of Niccolo Gualtieri.” This publication had 110 panels with lifelike images of mollusc shells

Many of the images in the work were from his personal and renowned collection of shells.

Linnaeus (renowned for formalising binomial nomenclature) used many of Gualtieri's specimens for his "Systema Naturae".

The prints depicted on the Antiquarian site, show some of Gualtieri's collection and his publication is thought to be one of the most curious and beautiful books on shells ever published.

Many of the shells are depicted standing on their apices, and are depicted from two sides, showing the complete surface.

Both engraving and typography are exceptional.

Gualtieri was also interested in Botany and was instrumental in the formation of the Botanical Society of Florence

Gualtieri’s Collection of shells is extensive and his collections are deposited at the Museo Storia Naturale di Pisa.

Today, these prints which are now almost 280 years old are extremely rare and becoming very hard to find.

 Related Tag: Shell Prints


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