Orpheus Charming the Animals
Signed and dated at lower left in gold, Ja: Houfnagl / 1613.
Watercolor and gouache, heightened with white gouache, over traces of black chalk, on vellum mounted on panel, bordered in gold
6 9/16 x 8 1/4 inches (166 x 210 mm)
Purchased on the Sunny Crawford von Bülow Fund 1978
Court painter to Rudolf II in Prague from 1602 to 1613, Hoefnagel specialized in small format mythological scenes on vellum or copper. This drawing is such a work, and its date and exquisite finish suggest that it may have been a courtly commission. The subject was popular in northern European art in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, reflecting the vogue for encyclopedic representations of nature.