The camel's head Representing unseen animals in sixteenth-century Europe* Dániel Margócsy La mer a tout ainsi que l'Element voisin, Sa Rose, son Melon, son Oeïllet, son Raisin.1 Start with a print designed by Maarten de Vos (1532-1603) and engraved by Adriaen Collaert (1560-1618). Asia, part of a series on the Four continents from the end of the sixteenth century, features an allegorical representation (fig. 1).2 Donning a revealing dress and a pointed hat with a veil, the female personification of Asia sits on a camel with an incense burner in her hands. In the background, a battle scene with Turkish warriors can be observed, and several exotic animals. In the foreground, a few tulips call attention to the Asian plant's growing popularity in the Low Countries. For a European audience, a woman, a battle scene, a plant and exotic animals could stand in for a whole continent. Given the prominence accorded to plants and animals, one could be tempted to cite Asia as a manifestation of the rise of naturalism in late sixteenth-century art. In transposing De Vos's sketch onto the copperplate, Collaert's attention to detail was exemplary: the animals' musculature and the tulip's venations are portrayed in
Netherlands Yearbook for History of Art / Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek Online – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2011
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