I recently bought a wonderful book of scientific illustrations by 19th century biologist Ernst Haeckel. His richly coloured and immensely detailed renderings of everything from jellyfish to microbes are some of the most awe-inspiring images I have ever seen. Even though they are, strictly speaking, scientific depictions of lifeforms which most of us are privileged enough to have seen either in real life or in photographs, Haeckel seems to have imbued them with an other-worldly ambience that somehow enhances their inherent beauty and makes them far more appealing to the eye.
I'm quite fascinated by this ability some artists have to extract beauty from their subjects that not everyone can see; it definitely supports the idea that an artist's skill is mostly in their ability to observe the world around them, with the physical creation of the end result being secondary. Here are some of Haeckel's super-natural illustrations for you to enjoy.