Study of a butterfly, a fly, a wasp and a gnat, german School, 1797


A fine example of insectomania in the 18th century.

Study of a butterfly, a fly, a wasp and a gnat, german School, 1797.

Nicolaï Peters

Friedrichstadt 1766 – Flensbourg 1825

Study of a butterfly, a fly, a wasp and a gnat

Inscribed 1.Trauermantel 2. Madentrager 3.Musikuss 4. Schmutzliege lower center and N. Peters Hermi John pinx lower left and Fridrich a. d. ? 1797 lower right.

Pen and brown ink, grey wash, gouache. Double framing lines.

Watermark – fleur-de-lys.

232 x 242 mm – 9,13 x 9,53 in

As stated in the inscribed caption, the butterfly is a Mourning cloak (Morio Nymphalis antiopa). The fly, the wasp, and the gnat are given names that may match ancient designations. The entomologist painters who signed this nice drawing remain unidentified. They drew inspiration in Abhandlungen von Insecten written in 1764 by Jacob Christian Schäffers or in his Icones insectorum circa ratisbonam indigenorum coloribus naturam referentibus expressae published in 1779. It should be observed that a few engravers named Fridrich – like one of the authors of this drawing- participated in the editing of both these insect treatises.

This interest for the living, vegetal or animal extensively developed during the 18th century thanks to the systematic research led by professional entomologists or by mere enthusiast amateurs. The fine execution and delicate layout reveal the real talent of both these artists, who were maybe just amateurs.

Condition report – Remains of glue strips on the edge on the verso. Faint foxing.