Musée No:325.102

Musée No:325.102

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Dutch Natural History Watercolour Illustration

Artist: Anselmus Boëtius de Boodt

Date:1596-1610

Anselmus Boëtius de Boodt was born in Bruges in 1550. He was a Flemish humanist, mineralogist, physician and naturalist and a gifted draughtsman. De Boodt joined the Emperor’s court in Bohemia as a medical doctor in 1588, and in 1604 he was put in charge of preparing the Historia Naturalis, an exquisitely illustrated encyclopaedia of the world’s then known plants, animals and birds. An accomplished artist, De Boodt made and signed many drawings himself. Emperor Rudolph II was forced to resign his crown in 1611 and died the following year, leaving many unpaid bills. De Boodt stayed in Prague for two years, desperately trying to collect money owed him. His efforts failed, so the frustrated artist took all 750 watercolours back to his native Bruges. When he died, unmarried, in 1632, at the age of 82, he left everything to two nephews, with one important condition: they were allowed to sell everything except the three vellum portfolios of drawings of “dieren, vogels, en bloemen.” These, he instructed, were to remain together and pass to each generation’s male heir. They did just that for nearly two and a half centuries.

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