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Fly, Caterpillar, Pear, and Centipede
Flemish and Hungarian
1561 - 1562; illumination added 1591 - 1596
Watercolors, gold and silver paint, and ink on parchment
Leaf: 16.6 x 12.4 cm (6 9/16 x 4 7/8 in.)
Georg Bocskay, one of the greatest scribes of the 1500s, included a variety of texts in different languages in his Model Book of Calligraphy. The texts are incidental to the calligraphy, which is conceived for its beauty and originality and as a display of virtuosity. On this page Bocskay presented a Latin prayer, beginning Deus (God), employing an elaborate angular script, gold filler for the last line, and ornate flourishes above and below the text.
Thirty years later, when illuminator Joris Hoefnagel painted the blank space left at the bottom of the page, he carefully coordinated his image with the script already on the page. Hoefnagel painted a pear, caterpillar, centipede, and hover fly in colors that harmonize with those of the text. The contrast between the yellow and ochre of the moth, hover fly, and pear and the black of the caterpillar echoes the contrast between the gold used for the initial and the decorative filler and the black ink used for the majority of the text. The hover fly was inspired by Bocskay's lower flourishes, which suggest the trajectory of a fly.