This paper compiles the pre-Linnean iconography of freshwater mussels or naiads and provices an understanding of the historical framework in which they were created. The first book providing a figure of a freshwater mussel would seem to be Hortus sanitatis, an anonymous encyclopaedia first published in 1491. This and other early images of these animals related to the activity of obtaining pearls from Margaritifera margaritifera. The first traditional image of a freshwater mussel, drawn by Rondelet in 1555, was thereafter used by such other early naturalists as Boussuet, Gessner, Aldrovandi, and Jonston. The first microscopists Heide and Leeuwenhoek and pioneer malacologists Lister, D'Argenville and Ginanni were the first to depict the anatomy of naiads. We also have discovered a pre-Linnean image of a living naiad by Poupart showing its typical furrow in the sediments, and a pencil sketch by Linnaeus showing a pearl fishery of M. margaritifera.
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Vol. 53 • No. 2