It takes a gifted artist to become a great teacher and those who dare to teach never cease to learn.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Archetypa - Hoefnagel's cabinet of miniatures

Archetype studiaque patris Georgii Hoefnagelii shows close-up portraits of plants, insects, and small animals. It initiated at the time of its publishing in 1592 (Frankfurt) an immediate admiration of the art and nature lovers. The designs were created by Joris Hoefnagel and engraved by his son, Jacob who was said to be 17-yr old at the time of the publishing (in reality he was 19-yr). Most likely several engravers were engaged in the production as the quality of the individual engravings is variable. Hoefnagel created his miniatures for the elite circles, for dukes, archdukes and the Emperor.  It was aimed both for lovers of plants and smaller animals, and for artists. 
The book provides a wealth of models, and copies were frequently made from it:  Book of Hours and Beseler’s Hortus Eystettensis might be among the most known ones to include several copied illustrations from Archetypa. Typically the copied images were reversed in comparison to those in the Architypa. On the other hand Albrect Dϋrer influenced also Hoefnagel: his side view of a stag-beetle was created to honor A. Dϋrer who recorded  that insect in “Madonna and the Many Animals” in 1505 (lower left corner).
Hoefnagel was certainly the first painter to raise the insects in their various phenotypes to the status of an independent pictorial subject. He also introduced the idea that man is a creature as transitory as a blade of grass or a flower in the meadow, like a soap-bubble, Homo bulla. 
Archetypa was the first publication to give the general public access to printed repertoire of forms which  carefully illustrated local and exotic plants and animals. Hoefnagel’s work was breaking the tradition of illustrating plants with flowers, roots and fruits, or as boarders to frame text or image intensifying it being also influential for the floral still lives of the seventieth century.
(Pars IV, plate 1 by Joris Hoefnagel)

In our series of  Drawing on Tradition miniature art was created in the manner of Joris Hoefnagel. Please see the BI-Facebook for the student work by clicking here.
The instructor for this class was Annie Reiser

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