First published in 1719, these drawings by publisher Louis Renard were part of his two-volume book Poissons, Ecrevisses et Crabes, the earliest known publication to capture fish in color. The books claimed to depict aquatic animals in the East Indies, and Renard remained steadfast that the drawings realistically depicted marine life in the region.
It’s apparent as soon as you look through a few pages that the drawings often drift from literal depiction towards artistic exaggeration and often outright fantasy. Perhaps that’s best represented by the inclusion of a siren (mermaid), but really the whole set is washed in magical realism. Like the best examples of that literary genre, the fantasy here doesn’t so much transport you to a completely different world, as it does bring to the surface the inherent magic and strangeness of this world we’re in.