Beautiful Bugs and Butterflies: Insects in the Art History Canon with Dr. Alette Fleischer

Beautiful Bugs and Butterflies: Insects in the Art History Canon with Dr. Alette Fleischer


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Can't make this time? A video recording will be sent to all participants after the seminar.

From the sacred scarab in ancient Egypt to the fabulous dragonflies, beetles, and butterflies in Europe's Art Nouveau period, insects have continuously played an inspirational role for artists across history. Join us as we survey the key paintings, drawings, etchings, sculptures, and precious jewelry within the art history canon which were inspired by a variety of insects. Ranging from scary creepy-crawlies such as beetles, ants, caterpillars, grasshoppers, and spiders, or flying bugs like fat flies, butterflies, moths, and dragonflies – no insect will be too frightening or too humble to be left out of our conversation. Our discussion will present the unique beauty of bugs in a new light, as well as spotlighting the craftsmanship of the artists.

Together we will contextualize the historical significance of Egypt's sacred scarab (an amulet), the Renaissance silver-guild objects by the German artist Wenzel Jamnitzer, insect paintings by Maria Sibylla Merian, up to René Lalique’s intricately designed insect jewelry. Even to the present day, artists are drawn to beetles and bugs. There is nothing scary about these impressive art objects – we need only fear their high price tags at auction!

Led by an expert on art history, Dr. Alette Fleischer, this interactive seminar will showcase our fascination with the beauty of bugs and beetles. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased appreciation for how artists transformed insects into gorgeous artworks.

Amsterdam-born Alette Fleischer has a degree in Art History and a PhD in 17th Dutch History, focusing on gardens, science, and technology. She has curated several exhibitions, publishes articles, presents lectures, and a proud Context Expert. For Context Travel, Alette has led the Rijksmuseum tours many times. Motto: staying curious is key for being a good historian.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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