Flowers and Beetles

Object Details

Title:

Flowers and Beetles

Artist/Maker(s):

Hans Hoffmann (German, about 1530 - 1591/1592)

Culture:

German

Place(s):

Germany (Place created)

Date:

1582

Medium:

Gouache with white chalk over black chalk on vellum

Dimensions:

32.1 x 38.7 cm (12 5/8 x 15 1/4 in.)

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In the late 1400s, northern European artists began to study and draw plants and animals with a greater interest in accuracy. Although showing the uniqueness of each of these specimens was undoubtedly important to Hans Hoffmann, he equally tried to portray the individual beauty of each flower and insect. He placed the peony, two species of irises, an amaryllis, a may beetle, and a june bug in an attractive arrangement on the page. He drew the delicate forms carefully and added lush color in a palette of green, blue, and red. He used plain black chalk to represent the shadow cast by the beetle's body, illusionistically raising the beetle's legs off the ground with this trompe-l'oeil effect.

Hoffmann may have intended this arrangement of nature studies to be hung as a painting, since it was listed as such in the archives of its original owner and it remained in a frame until well into the 1800s. Scholars consider this one of the first examples of still life painting.

Exhibitions
Drawings from the J. Paul Getty Museum (May 24 to August 8, 1993) (60)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, (New York), May 24 to August 8, 1993
Drawings from the J. Paul Getty Museum (October 29, 1993 to January 23, 1994) (66)
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), October 29, 1993 to January 23, 1994
Color in Drawing (March 10 to May 24, 1998) (66)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), March 10 to May 24, 1998
Art and Science: Joris Hoefnagel and the Representation of Nature in the Renaissance (October 12, 1999 to January 9, 2000) (66)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), October 12, 1999 to January 9, 2000
Mise-en-Page: The Art of Composing on Paper (December 17, 2002 to March 9, 2003) (66)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 17, 2002 to March 9, 2003
Picturing the Natural World (June 17 to September 7, 2003) (66)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), June 17 to September 7, 2003
The Prismatic Palette: Four Centuries of Watercolors (October 5, 2004 to January 2, 2005) (66)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), October 5, 2004 to January 2, 2005
Maria Sibylla Merian & Daughters: Women of Art and Science (February 23 to August 31, 2008) (66)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), June 10 to August 31, 2008