restricted access The Specimen and the Image: John Woodward, Agostino Scilla, and the Depiction of Fossils

In the mid-1690s English naturalists rediscovered the Sicilian painter Agostino Scilla’s La vana speculazione disingannata dal senso (1670), an important study of the nature of fossils accompanied by engravings of Scilla’s drawings of his fossils. They reproduced his images, reviewed his book, and debated who plagiarized them. This essay discusses the influence of Scilla’s ideas and images on early Royal Society members such as John Ray and John Woodward. Woodward ultimately acquired Scilla’s fossil collection in 1717 (it survives today in the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences in Cambridge) and compared the specimens with the images.