Science Art: Water, by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, 1566

Scientific illustration or, well, painting of Water and marine life as an elemental face

Scientific illustration or, well, painting of Water and marine life as an elemental faceClick to embiggen

I’m not sure if this really is a scientific illustration, but I think, given the time, it counts as natural history. This thing – heads made of… well… non-head things, that was Arcimboldo’s thing. He also made stained glass windows and traditional religious art, but that’s not nearly so well remembered as these illusion paintings. It probably helps that one of them was a portrait of his patron, the Holy Roman Emperor, as the god of the seasons.

But this is the spirit of water, a collection of sea and river creatures in the shape of a human being. Ray and shrimp, pearl and octopus.

Found in a category of optical-illusion art found on Wikimedia Commons.