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5 Snakes, Fungi and Insects. Otto Marseus van Schrieck, Johannes Swammerdam and the Theory of Spontaneous Generation

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Chapter Summary

In the cold winter of 1667-68, the young Florentine Prince Cosimo de' Medici started a journey through Northern Europe, not to escape the horrors of a dynastic marriage, but with the explicit aim of learning about the blossoming intellectual and artistic culture in England and the Dutch Republic. The first painter whom the prince met was Otto Marseus van Schrieck, the creator of a strange genre of paintings in which snakes, insects and toads were depicted in mutual combat, against a dark background of thistles, fungi and moss. Johannes Goedaert who was pious painter, born around the same time as Marseus, and was an enthusiastic advocate of the theory of spontaneous generation, and described watching with his own eyes as two identical caterpillars died and different insects then emerged from their remains.

Keywords: artistic culture; Dutch Republic; Johannes Goedaert; Otto Marseus van Schrieck; theory of spontaneous generation

10.1163/9789004279179_007
/content/books/b9789004279179_007
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