Albrecht Dürer, a German Renaissance artist drew the “Great Piece of Turf” in 1503. Nowadays, the small watercolor painting might not seem that unusual because we are used to photographs of flora and fauna that capture the exact object within in a fraction of a second. However, the in-depth analysis of a little piece of turf was seen as a radical shift during the Renaissance. Dürer devoted so much attention to nature itself, which was often only present in Renaissance paintings to decorate the background. The painting incorporates many different shades of green and the countless forms of the grass let nature’s richness and diversity shine through. In fact, Dürer’s turf is so precisely captured that botanists were able to determine that the plants’ state of growth in the picture corresponds to turf in the month of May.
While Dürer captured every single detail of the turf, Leonarod da Vinci’s “Star of Bethlehem” (1506-08) aimed at trying to understand the structure and patterns of a certain plant. In place of capturing the whole plant, da Vinci investigation of a flower zooms in. He did not want to capture a specific plant with all its details but was more interested in exploring the concept of vegetation itself and what its inner structures might be. Both art works have not only an artistic but also a scientific value to them. The two artists investigated nature using two different approaches: Dürer’s turf is a holistic analysis of nature, while da Vinci’s drawing zooms in and shows a flower in motion.