2021 – When Art Meets Science

Jan Bruegel l'Ancien
When art meets science. The representation of birds from the New World in 16th- and 17th-century paintings and prints from the Netherlands

The aim of this doctoral research, conducted by Marie-Anne Dragon at the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), is to study how birds from the New World were represented by Flemish and Dutch artists of the 16th and 17th centuries, in order to determine the degree of accuracy and possible scientific significance of their representations. To address this question, a comprehensive selection of artworks depicting these exotic birds will be analysed in terms of form as well as context. The formal analysis will not only be carried out by comparison with contemporary natural history texts, but also by shedding light on the artist’s use of scientific methods.


Illustration: Jan Brueghel the Elder, Paradise landscape with the animals entering Noah’s ark, 1596, oil on copper, 27 x 35 cm (private collection). Photo: Sotheby’s.