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10 Exotic Animal Painting by Jan Brueghel the Elder and Roelant Savery

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Chapter Summary

During the second half of the sixteenth century, knowledge of European flora and fauna grew swiftly and natural history changed fundamentally. Just before the turn of the seventeenth century exotic animal paintings emerged as a new genre in painting. This chapter discusses the early development of the new genre, by means of the oeuvres of Jan Brueghel and Roelant Savery. Both artists deliberately demonstrate their natural historical knowledge through their exotic animal paintings, which is an important characteristic of the new genre. Brueghel's earliest dated painting of the genre is an Earthly Paradise from 1594, which shows the creation of Eve from Adam's rib in the background. The court of Rudolf II in Prague played an important part in the development of this new genre of exotic animal paintings, in particular in representations of Orpheus. Rudolf II owned several paintings of Orpheus.

Keywords: animal painting; Jan Brueghel; Orpheus; Roelant Savery; Rudolf II



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