Pasta For Nightingales

Art / Nature

by Cassiano dal Pozzo & Giovanni Petro Olina, with a foreword by Helen MacDonald
April 2018 – Royal Collection Trust

A unique celebration of the beginnings of ornithology, designed in sympathy with the character of the seventeenth-century original.

Cassiano dal Pozzo (1588-1657), now considered one of the most important Italian art patrons of the seventeenth century, commissioned a number of exquisite studies of birds as part of his famous ‘Paper Museum’. The lawyer and natural historian Giovanni Pietro Olina used these drawings, which are now kept in the Royal Library at Windsor Castle, as the basis for the plates in his treatise, Uccelliera.

PASTA FOR NIGHTINGALES combines Cassiano’s original artwork with extracts from the first English translation of Olina’s text. It includes such entertaining insights as the notion that robins were epileptic, or suffered from dizziness, and that the hoopoe over-indulged in grapes until it became ‘dazed and half-drunk’. It also includes much fascinating early natural history and ornithological observation – as well as the secret recipe for pasta to keep your nightingale happy and encourage it to sing.

Cassiano dal Pozzo is celebrated today as one of the most important art patrons in seventeenth-century Italy. He commissioned and assembled more than 7,000 watercolors, drawings and prints, in his famous ‘Paper Museum’.

Giovanni Petro Olina was a lawyer and natural historian in seventeenth-century Italy. He published the Uccelliera (1622), an illustrated treatise on catching and keeping birds.

Helen MacDonald is a writer, poet, illustrator and historian. She is the author of Falcon (2006) and the best-selling H IS FOR HAWK (2015), winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction.


144 pages
Over 100 colour illustrations
190 x 150 mm