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The natural sciences were one of Beuys's great interests from an early age. As a child he collected and catalogued biological specimens and made a small laboratory in his house. His study was aided by a copy of Carl Linnaeus's book of classification for the natural world, 'Systema Naturae', which Beuys was able to save from a Nazi book burning at his school library. This is the earliest work by Beuys in the ARTIST ROOMS collection, made when the artist was twenty-four years old. The leaf is from a Norway maple tree, a species native to central and eastern Europe.