A Sloth

Object Details

Title:

A Sloth

Artist/Maker(s):

Joris Hoefnagel (Flemish / Hungarian, 1542 - 1600)

and Georg Bocskay (Hungarian, died 1575)

Culture:

Flemish and Hungarian

Date:

1561 - 1562; illumination added 1591 - 1596

Medium:

Watercolors, gold and silver paint, and ink on parchment

Dimensions:

Leaf: 16.6 x 12.4 cm (6 9/16 x 4 7/8 in.)

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Beneath a canopied structure, a wiry-haired animal, perhaps a sloth, munches on a twig. A Latin text based on Jesus's Sermon on the Mount appears above. Although the text and image seem to fit perfectly together, the different elements on the page were made thirty years apart.The elegant Roman-style lettering was written by Georg Bocskay to display his mastery of calligraphy. The text originally appeared on a plain black background. The illustration was added later by Joris Hoefnagel, who saw in the diminishing script the suggestion of recession into space, an illusion defied by the two-dimensionality of the text. He thus enclosed the letters within an architectural canopy drawn in perspective. Hoefnagel also responded wittily to the black coloration of the page, interpreting it naturalistically as nighttime: the silvery tones of the animal's fur and the gold shimmer in the darkness.

Related Works
Exhibitions
Illuminated Flemish Manuscripts of the Late Middle Ages (July 26 to October 16, 1988)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), July 26 to October 16, 1988
Masterpieces of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscript illumination (December 16, 1997 to March 22, 1998)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 16, 1997 to March 22, 1998
Encompassing the Globe (June 23 to September 16, 2007)
  • Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, (Washington), June 23 to September 16, 2007
Related Media
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    Audio: Sloth / Mira calligraphae monumenta