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Upper center in violet ink: Omni miraculo quod fit per Hominem maius miraculum est HOMO / visibilium omnium maximus est Mundus, Invisibilium DEVS / sed mundum esse co[n]spicimus, Deum esse Credimus; center right in gold: I; lower center in gold: HOMO natus de MVLIERE, brevi vivens tempore / Repletur multis miserys. Job.14 (“Man born of a woman, living for a short time, is filled with many miseries.” Job 14:1) (Latin Vulgate Bible)
Facing page:
Upper center in red ink: Pronaq[ue] cum spectent Animalia caetera terram: / Os homini sublime dedit, caelumq[ue] tueri / Iussit, et erectos ad Sydera tollere vultus. (“While other animals look downward at the ground he [the maker of the world] gave human beings an upturned aspect, commanding them to look toward the skies, and, upright, to raise their face to the stars.” Ovid, _Metamorphoses_, 1.84-86, adapted by Hoefnagel) (trans. Bass 2019, 240); middle center in black ink: PETRUS GONSALVS Alumnus REGIS GALLORVM / Ex insulis Canariae ortus: / Me Teneriffa tulit: villos sed Corpore toto / Sparsit opus mirum naturae: Gallia, mater / Altera, me puerum nutrivit adusque virilem / Aetatem: docuitque feros deponere mores, / Ingenuasq[ue] artes, linguamque sonare Latinam. / Contigit et forma praestanti munere Divum / Coniunx, et Thalami charissima pignora nostri. / Cernere naturae licet hinc tibi munera: nati / Quod referunt alii matrem formaq[ue] colore, / Ast alii patrem vestiti crine sequuntur. (“Tenerife bore me, but a miraculous work of nature strewed my whole body with hairs; France, my other mother, nurtured me from a boy up to a virile age, and taught me to cast aside uncivilized manners, to embrace the natural arts, and to speak the Latin tongue. A wife of surpassing beauty befell me by a gift of God, and from our marriage bed came the most beloved children. Here you may discern the munificence of nature: those born to us resemble their mother in form and coloring, yet likewise take after their father, as they too are cloaked in hair.”) (trans. Bass 2019, 239) / Comparuit Monachii boiorum A[o]: 1582:; lower center in red ink: Sed prior h[a]ec Hominis cura est, cognoscere terram / Et quae nunc miranda tulit Natura, notare.


Emperor Rudolph of Austria; Lessing J. Rosenwald, Alverthorpe, PA; gift to NGA, 1987.

Exhibition History

A Collector's Cabinet, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1998, no. 76.
From Botany to Bouquets: Flowers in Northern Art, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1999, no. 45, as Iris from Animalia Rationalia et Insecta (Ignis).
Deceptions and Illusions: Five Centuries of Trompe l'Oeil Painting, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 2002-2003, no. 30, as Ignis (Animalia Rationalia et Insecta) Plate 47.
Arcimboldo, 1526-1593: Nature and Fantasy, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Palazzo Reale, Milan, 2010-2011, brochure no. 32 (shown only in Washington).

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