Dragonfly, Pear, Carnation, and Insect
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Joris Hoefnagel, illuminator; Georg Bocskay, scribe
Flemish and Hungarian, illumination 1591-1596, script 1561-1562
Watercolors, gold and silver paint, and ink on parchment
6 9/16 x 4 7/8 in.
MS. 20, FOL. 76

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By contrasting the geometric symmetry of the dragonfly laid out in the center of the page with the more curvilinear, asymmetrical shapes of the pear and carnation below, Joris Hoefnagel created a sense of balance in this illumination. From the diaphanous quality of its intricately patterned wings to the textures of its hard, glossy body and delicate, feathery legs, he based the dragonfly's form on careful observation of nature. While the dragonfly appears to be laid out like a stiff scientific specimen, Hoefnagel imbued the imaginary insect on the right with life and movement as it gently alights on the carnation. The pear, with its fuzzy skin suggested by the use of tiny brushstrokes, casts a shadow, creating the illusion of a real pear placed on the page.