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Flemish and Hungarian
Vienna, Austria (Place Created)
1561–1562; illumination added 1591–1596
Watercolors, gold and silver paint, and ink
Ms. 20 (86.MV.527), fol. 106
Leaf: 16.6 × 12.4 cm (6 9/16 × 4 7/8 in.)
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.
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