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associated with the soul, the image of the destiny of the soul, symbol of resurrection,
allegory of the transience and fragility of existence,
her beauty and short lifespan made it a symbol of physical beauty that threatens virtue and leads to human downfall …
Butterflies
in Western painting
A Princess of the House of Este,
flowers
and
butterflies ...
The butterfly, a Vanessa Atalanta, near the princess' brow is a symbol of the soul.
(It seems likely that the painting was commissioned from Pisanello
when the model died. Columbine and carnations are symbols of death and pain.
And the Greek uses the same word, Ψυχή (psyche), to refer to butterflies
and the soul).
Pisanello
Portrait d'une princesse de la Maison d'Este
Portrait of a Princess
1436-1438
Musée du Louvre, Paris
Here is an image type that was very much in vogue in the XVIth century
in Flanders, at a time when death fascinated people as much as it terrified them.
An angel with the wings of a butterfly holds a mirror in which a skull is reflected
...
(The skull, in the Western world a symbol of Vanity, shows the fragility
of human life.)
Jan Sanders van Hemessen
Vanité
Vanitas
1535-1540
Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille, Lille
Butterfly ... a symbol of the artist’s ephemeral creative vision,
of the volatility of thought,
of the soul released through sleep or death
It was once said that the goddesses of Virtue and Fortune
had a bad quarrel.
In her distress, Virtue sought the aid of Jupiter, chief of all the gods.
But Mercury intervened, and told her to wait:
the gods were busy, he said, making cucumbers blossom
and painting the wings on butterflies ...
Dosso Dossi
Jupiter Painting Butterflies, Jupiter, Mercury and Virtue
Jupiter peignant des papillons, Jupiter, Mercure et la Vertu
1524
Wawel Royal Castle, Cracow
A strange painting in which to find butterflies ...
The Gods have won ... and the Titans, fell from the heavens
and were imprisoned in Tartarus, or Hell
The flying insects, even butterflies, were associated with the fire of the underworld
although
… the two butterflies and one dragonfly appear quite incongruous,
at least to the modern eye.
Cornelis van Haarlem
The Fall of the Titans
La Chute des Titans
1588-1590
Statens Museum for Kunst (Den Kongelige Malerisamling), Copenhagen
The Golden butterflies, floating above the heads of angels …
Traditionally, butterflies stand for the soul or resurrection.
In antiquity, the souls of the deceased were imagined as butterflies;
this idea was adopted as well in Christianity, and the Resurrection of Christ
is compared to the metamorphoses of a chrysalis into a butterfly.
(The cherry that is offered to the infant Jesus is a reference to the Garden
of Eden.)
Jean Malouel
Virgin and Child with Butterflies
Vierge à l'enfant aux papillons
1410
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Berlin
Good and evil fighting for the human soul ...
…
The demon with butterfly wings ...
The demon dressed in the wings of a Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae,
has the same black and red chromatism,
in full sunlight, near the iridescence of the rainbow and the peacock
feathers of the Archangel:
diabolical, the butterfly remains so, even far from the infernal flames.
The wing color, red and black, of the Small tortoiseshell
and the Vanessa atalanta was associated with the devil, and to feed
on rotting meat and excrement, a symbol of death and corruption.
Hans Memling
The Last Judgment (central panel)
Le Jugement dernier (panneau central)
1466-1473
Muzeum Narodowe w Gdańsku, Gdańsk
Bruegel invents creatures that are the most repulsive, but also the most
curious and fantastic imaginable.
Within the "mêlée"
mussel shells grafted onto a gigantic shrimp,
a puffy gnome carrying a sundial and with a plumed helmet on his head,
a viscous fish with arms, lizard scales, crustacean paws,
a human head with butterfly wings attached to a shapeless, bloated body ...
Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Pieter Brueghel l'Ancien
The Fall of the Rebel Angels
La Chute des anges rebelles
1562
Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels
Mars, the God of War, conquered and exhausted Mars,
Venus, the Goddess of Love, victorious (this would then be
an allegory of Love triumphing over War),
Cupid, chubby little child nestled in his mother’s arm,
a group of putti play with Mars' weapons and armor,
two doves that symbolize tender love
and
a long-eared rabbit,
a fly dozes on Mars’s pillow,
a large butterfly, wings outspread, dawdles on Venus’s knee
…
What is the giant bunny doing here? ... a symbol of sexual excess?
... and the fly ... and the butterfly?
Piero di Cosimo
Venus, Mars and Cupid
Vénus, Mars et Cupidon
1490
Staatliche Museen, Berlin
Psyche receives Cupid's first kiss with astonishment,
the thought, the feeling awaken in their hitherto dormant being
and
… the butterfly of the soul flutters and flaps its wings
Psyche is the Greek goddess of the soul and often represented with butterfly.
François Gérard
Psyché et l'Amour, dit aussi Psyché recevant le premier baiser de l'Amour
Psyche and Amor, also known as Psyche Receiving Cupid's First Kiss
1798
Musée du Louvre, Paris
The legendary Greek prince Oedipus
the malevolent Sphinx,
a riddle,
remains of victims who answered incorrectly
a bay tree, sacred to Apollo, representing man’s highest achievements,
a fig tree, a traditional symbol of sin,
a cinerary urn, symbolizing death,
a snake, associated with death, and through the biblical serpent, with sin
and
a butterfly, representing the soul …
Gustave Moreau
Oedipe et le sphinx
Oedipus and the Sphinx
1864
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Manhattan, New York City
Every hunter’s dream:
discover the largest and most spectacular butterflies ever seen ...
a great big hat, an umbrella,
a tiny net
and
seemingly packed for a great jungle adventure
(the insignificance of man in the vastness of nature …)
Carl Spitzweg
The butterfly hunter
Le chasseur de papillons
1840
Museum Wiesbaden, Wiesbaden
The beauty of flowers and insects ...
large poppy flowers
and
two bright butterflies, contrasted with the background of grass and leaves
Vincent van Gogh
Papillons et coquelicots
Butterflies and Poppies
April 1890-May 1890
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
a highly imaginative collection of flowers, plants, rocks,
butterflies ...
Odilon Redon
Papillons
Butterflies
1910
The Museum of Modern Art, New York City
Intriguing, eccentric and bold painting...
a desert-like setting, lifeless, where time seems to have stopped
and
two butterflies that appear to be in flight yet there is no sense
of movement about them.
They appear static as if caught and placed for observation at the edge
of the rock.
For the Dali, the butterflies often they represent metamorphosis,
or have a meaning that alludes to carnal desire and seduction
Salvador Dalí
Paysage aux papillons
Landscape with Butterflies
1956
Private collection
A magnificent and enigmatic Italian painting …
roses, three quails, a toad, a little owl, a white stilt,
butterfly ...
The atmosphere is twilight, certainly,
… but each creature is full of life.
Can we really talk about a still life?
Paolo Porpora
Nature morte avec des cailles, un hibou et une échasse blanche
Still-Life with Quails, an Owl and a White Stilt
1625 and 1650
Musée du Louvre, Paris
butterflies,
flowers,
frogs, snails,
a mouse, a black beetle.
snakes, poisonous mushrooms
...
and barely visible amid this vivid and perilous nature,
a sole bird skeleton is a symbol of vanity and shortness of life
Abraham Mignon
Flowers and tiny creatures, Vanitas
Fleurs et petites créatures, Vanitas
17th century
Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie,
Warsaw
The transience of earthly things ...
‘Ecquid Sunt aliud quam breve gaudium?’ What are these other than a brief joy?
the skull and the thighbone beside it signify death,
the fly on the forehead stands for the persistence with which death pursues us,
the books refer to the inadequacy of human knowledge,
flowers are symbolic of the brevity of life
the valuable exotic shell, the pearls and the coins are reminders that earthly riches
are vain in the face of death
…
But there is a ray of light in the darkness:
a French proverb written on the paper protruding from the book, ‘mourir pour vivre’,
die to live, a reference to life after death, the only life that is worthwhile
and
a butterfly,
is a garden tiger moth Arctia caja, lived as a caterpillar, to become a butterfly.
Thus the human spirit, when it leaves this earthly life, will find salvation.
Adriaen van Nieulandt
Vanitas Still Life
Vanité Nature morte
1636
Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem
Butterflies in Western painting
Papillons dans la peinture occidentale
images and text credit www.
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Butterflies in Western painting.ppsx

  • 1.
  • 2.
  • 3. associated with the soul, the image of the destiny of the soul, symbol of resurrection, allegory of the transience and fragility of existence, her beauty and short lifespan made it a symbol of physical beauty that threatens virtue and leads to human downfall …
  • 5. A Princess of the House of Este, flowers and butterflies ... The butterfly, a Vanessa Atalanta, near the princess' brow is a symbol of the soul. (It seems likely that the painting was commissioned from Pisanello when the model died. Columbine and carnations are symbols of death and pain. And the Greek uses the same word, Ψυχή (psyche), to refer to butterflies and the soul). Pisanello Portrait d'une princesse de la Maison d'Este Portrait of a Princess 1436-1438 Musée du Louvre, Paris
  • 6.
  • 7.
  • 8. Here is an image type that was very much in vogue in the XVIth century in Flanders, at a time when death fascinated people as much as it terrified them. An angel with the wings of a butterfly holds a mirror in which a skull is reflected ... (The skull, in the Western world a symbol of Vanity, shows the fragility of human life.) Jan Sanders van Hemessen Vanité Vanitas 1535-1540 Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille, Lille
  • 9.
  • 10.
  • 11. Butterfly ... a symbol of the artist’s ephemeral creative vision, of the volatility of thought, of the soul released through sleep or death It was once said that the goddesses of Virtue and Fortune had a bad quarrel. In her distress, Virtue sought the aid of Jupiter, chief of all the gods. But Mercury intervened, and told her to wait: the gods were busy, he said, making cucumbers blossom and painting the wings on butterflies ... Dosso Dossi Jupiter Painting Butterflies, Jupiter, Mercury and Virtue Jupiter peignant des papillons, Jupiter, Mercure et la Vertu 1524 Wawel Royal Castle, Cracow
  • 12.
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  • 16. A strange painting in which to find butterflies ... The Gods have won ... and the Titans, fell from the heavens and were imprisoned in Tartarus, or Hell The flying insects, even butterflies, were associated with the fire of the underworld although … the two butterflies and one dragonfly appear quite incongruous, at least to the modern eye. Cornelis van Haarlem The Fall of the Titans La Chute des Titans 1588-1590 Statens Museum for Kunst (Den Kongelige Malerisamling), Copenhagen
  • 17.
  • 18.
  • 19.
  • 20. The Golden butterflies, floating above the heads of angels … Traditionally, butterflies stand for the soul or resurrection. In antiquity, the souls of the deceased were imagined as butterflies; this idea was adopted as well in Christianity, and the Resurrection of Christ is compared to the metamorphoses of a chrysalis into a butterfly. (The cherry that is offered to the infant Jesus is a reference to the Garden of Eden.) Jean Malouel Virgin and Child with Butterflies Vierge à l'enfant aux papillons 1410 Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Berlin
  • 21.
  • 22. Good and evil fighting for the human soul ... … The demon with butterfly wings ... The demon dressed in the wings of a Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae, has the same black and red chromatism, in full sunlight, near the iridescence of the rainbow and the peacock feathers of the Archangel: diabolical, the butterfly remains so, even far from the infernal flames. The wing color, red and black, of the Small tortoiseshell and the Vanessa atalanta was associated with the devil, and to feed on rotting meat and excrement, a symbol of death and corruption. Hans Memling The Last Judgment (central panel) Le Jugement dernier (panneau central) 1466-1473 Muzeum Narodowe w Gdańsku, Gdańsk
  • 23.
  • 24.
  • 25.
  • 26. Bruegel invents creatures that are the most repulsive, but also the most curious and fantastic imaginable. Within the "mêlée" mussel shells grafted onto a gigantic shrimp, a puffy gnome carrying a sundial and with a plumed helmet on his head, a viscous fish with arms, lizard scales, crustacean paws, a human head with butterfly wings attached to a shapeless, bloated body ... Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Pieter Brueghel l'Ancien The Fall of the Rebel Angels La Chute des anges rebelles 1562 Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels
  • 27.
  • 28.
  • 29.
  • 30. Mars, the God of War, conquered and exhausted Mars, Venus, the Goddess of Love, victorious (this would then be an allegory of Love triumphing over War), Cupid, chubby little child nestled in his mother’s arm, a group of putti play with Mars' weapons and armor, two doves that symbolize tender love and a long-eared rabbit, a fly dozes on Mars’s pillow, a large butterfly, wings outspread, dawdles on Venus’s knee … What is the giant bunny doing here? ... a symbol of sexual excess? ... and the fly ... and the butterfly? Piero di Cosimo Venus, Mars and Cupid Vénus, Mars et Cupidon 1490 Staatliche Museen, Berlin
  • 31.
  • 32.
  • 33.
  • 34.
  • 35. Psyche receives Cupid's first kiss with astonishment, the thought, the feeling awaken in their hitherto dormant being and … the butterfly of the soul flutters and flaps its wings Psyche is the Greek goddess of the soul and often represented with butterfly. François Gérard Psyché et l'Amour, dit aussi Psyché recevant le premier baiser de l'Amour Psyche and Amor, also known as Psyche Receiving Cupid's First Kiss 1798 Musée du Louvre, Paris
  • 36.
  • 37.
  • 38.
  • 39. The legendary Greek prince Oedipus the malevolent Sphinx, a riddle, remains of victims who answered incorrectly a bay tree, sacred to Apollo, representing man’s highest achievements, a fig tree, a traditional symbol of sin, a cinerary urn, symbolizing death, a snake, associated with death, and through the biblical serpent, with sin and a butterfly, representing the soul … Gustave Moreau Oedipe et le sphinx Oedipus and the Sphinx 1864 Metropolitan Museum of Art, Manhattan, New York City
  • 40.
  • 41.
  • 42.
  • 43. Every hunter’s dream: discover the largest and most spectacular butterflies ever seen ... a great big hat, an umbrella, a tiny net and seemingly packed for a great jungle adventure (the insignificance of man in the vastness of nature …) Carl Spitzweg The butterfly hunter Le chasseur de papillons 1840 Museum Wiesbaden, Wiesbaden
  • 44.
  • 45.
  • 46. The beauty of flowers and insects ... large poppy flowers and two bright butterflies, contrasted with the background of grass and leaves Vincent van Gogh Papillons et coquelicots Butterflies and Poppies April 1890-May 1890 Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
  • 47.
  • 48.
  • 49. a highly imaginative collection of flowers, plants, rocks, butterflies ... Odilon Redon Papillons Butterflies 1910 The Museum of Modern Art, New York City
  • 50.
  • 51.
  • 52. Intriguing, eccentric and bold painting... a desert-like setting, lifeless, where time seems to have stopped and two butterflies that appear to be in flight yet there is no sense of movement about them. They appear static as if caught and placed for observation at the edge of the rock. For the Dali, the butterflies often they represent metamorphosis, or have a meaning that alludes to carnal desire and seduction Salvador Dalí Paysage aux papillons Landscape with Butterflies 1956 Private collection
  • 53.
  • 54.
  • 55. A magnificent and enigmatic Italian painting … roses, three quails, a toad, a little owl, a white stilt, butterfly ... The atmosphere is twilight, certainly, … but each creature is full of life. Can we really talk about a still life? Paolo Porpora Nature morte avec des cailles, un hibou et une échasse blanche Still-Life with Quails, an Owl and a White Stilt 1625 and 1650 Musée du Louvre, Paris
  • 56.
  • 57.
  • 58. butterflies, flowers, frogs, snails, a mouse, a black beetle. snakes, poisonous mushrooms ... and barely visible amid this vivid and perilous nature, a sole bird skeleton is a symbol of vanity and shortness of life Abraham Mignon Flowers and tiny creatures, Vanitas Fleurs et petites créatures, Vanitas 17th century Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie, Warsaw
  • 59.
  • 60.
  • 61. The transience of earthly things ... ‘Ecquid Sunt aliud quam breve gaudium?’ What are these other than a brief joy? the skull and the thighbone beside it signify death, the fly on the forehead stands for the persistence with which death pursues us, the books refer to the inadequacy of human knowledge, flowers are symbolic of the brevity of life the valuable exotic shell, the pearls and the coins are reminders that earthly riches are vain in the face of death … But there is a ray of light in the darkness: a French proverb written on the paper protruding from the book, ‘mourir pour vivre’, die to live, a reference to life after death, the only life that is worthwhile and a butterfly, is a garden tiger moth Arctia caja, lived as a caterpillar, to become a butterfly. Thus the human spirit, when it leaves this earthly life, will find salvation. Adriaen van Nieulandt Vanitas Still Life Vanité Nature morte 1636 Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem
  • 62.
  • 63.
  • 64. Butterflies in Western painting Papillons dans la peinture occidentale images and text credit www. Music The Piano Guys Crescendo created olga_oes thanks for watching o.esqsegues@gmail.com