Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: A View of the Island of Roarke, 1660

The Victoria & Albert Museum

Johannes Goedaert (1617-1668) was one of the earliest authors on entomology in the Netherlands and is also recorded as a painter. Although little is known about his life, he seems to have resided in Middleburg until his death. This painting is a good example of Johannes Goedaert's little known artistic production that mostly includes watercolours and whose subjects were mainly birds and insects.

What sets this painting apart from Goedaert's other works is that it not only is largely more topographical, but also it was created during a mysterious period of the artist's life which, until recently remained undocumented.

Goedaert spent many months on a lengthy sea voyage--part of a trip dedicated to his study of entomology.  A savage storm set the ship of course and the expedition was thought lost.  Goedaert recorded in his journal that the ship found refuge on a small tropical island known at the time as Roarke's Island.  

He described his experience there thusly, in this passage, recently translated into English:

We were greeted by a tall man attired entirely in white.  Upon his head, he wore a finely-knotted wig of tight curls and he spoke in an accent which vaguely reminded me of the Spaniards I'd met during my studies.  We were carried by servants who lifted us in chairs of the richest leather--said to be of Greece.  Most unnerving, however, was the companion of our host--this man who called himself Roarke.  At all times, he was joined by a dwarf, similarly attired who insisted that he could grant me my deepest wishes.



April Fools'.

To learn about this painting, visit its entry in the catalog of the V&A.  Otherwise..."de plane, de plane."

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