Insects, Butterflies, and a Dragonfly

Jan van Kessel Flemish

Not on view

Jan van Kessel produced numerous studies of plants and animals and distinguished himself from his predecessors in this field through his emphasis upon the depiction and aesthetic arrangement of insects. The artist likely drew from prints and from life when drawing the array of insects on this sheet. He occasionally painted insects like these on the drawer fronts of the cabinets that insect collectors used for display. The jarring juxtaposition of Van Kessel’s animate painted insects with the dried and pinned specimens contained within the drawers that his depictions decorated would have surprised and delighted those privileged enough to have had access to the elite spaces in which these collections were housed.

Insects, Butterflies, and a Dragonfly, Jan van Kessel (Flemish, 1626–1679), Black chalk, watercolor and gouache on parchment

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