Nautilus

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10"x8" 20 of 20 available
$24

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14.0x16.5 - Black - Matted      OUR PICK

14.0x16.5 - White - Matted

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14"x11" 99 of 100 available
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16.5x19.5 - Black - Matted      OUR PICK

16.5x19.5 - White - Matted

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20"x16" 20 of 20 available
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22.5x27.5 - Black - Matted      OUR PICK

22.5x27.5 - White - Matted

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24"x20" 5 of 5 available
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27.5x30.5 - Black - Matted      OUR PICK

27.5x30.5 - White - Matted

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Artist Statement

 

This nautilus, as illustrated by German engraver and naturalist Georg Wolfgang Knorr in his collection of shellfish published in 1770, exhibits the striking countershading of the nautilus shell. The speckled coloring helps the nautilus blend into dark water when viewed from above, and its lighter underside lets it blend into brighter waters at the surface—a clever maneuver of natural selection.

Nautilus shells were popular in the Renaissance cabinet of curiosities, to the extent that some were even turned into extravagant cups! Small natural history collections were common in mid-19th-century Victorian homes, and chambered nautilus shells were prized decorations. These creatures provided artistic inspiration up to modern day, including a 1916 cantata and an Andrew Wyeth painting made in 1956.

The nautilus is the only cephalopod whose body structure is externalized as a shell. The nautilus can withdraw completely into its shell using a hood formed from two specially folded tentacles. The reason the nautilus shell is coiled is due to how it grows: the shell is divided internally into chambers called camerae. As the nautilus grows bigger, it creates new, larger camerae, moves into the larger space, and seals the vacated chamber with a new septum. At the moment of hatching, a nautilus has four camerae; in adulthood, the number may reach thirty or more. Its shell presents one of the finest natural examples of a logarithmic spiral.