The Leopoldina Academy was (is?) the oldest school for natural history in Europe, founded in 1652. They also had a different attitude towards politics than the government did, as Nees was their president until the day he died.
For the significance of his illustrations, see the entry for James Bolton. I've used quite a few of them in this website, and I only wish that they looked as good as the originals. The originals are printed in black and white from an engraving, hand-colored with transparent watercolor, and then touched up with opaque colors, which gives them a certain 3-dimensional aspect which is unfortunately lost when they are scanned. He also has drawings of microscopic cross-sections and dissections of many of the small ascomycetes he examines - - the beginning of the standardization of microscopic features to identify fungi. Pictured here is his illustration of the development of the slime mold Stemonitis. His taxonomy was probably fun to write and contemplate (he has several big charts of taxa in circular arrangements, with lines going between them), but it is the close study of the individual fungi (as shown in the illustrations) that makes this a valuable work.
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