From Venice to Fabre: insects in western art

Research output: Contribution to journalAbstractAcademic


Insects are not only special to entomologists, they have also been a source of inspiration to artists throughout the centuries. From the 13th century until present artists have depicted insects in two-dimensional and three-dimensional works. Insects have often been used as symbols for the brevity of life, for the transcendence of the soul, but also because of the beauty of their forms and colours. Some artists paint or sculpt with insects themselves, either dead or still alive. Over the past 7 years I have visited 180 art museums and recorded the representation of insects in the works on display. As a result I have gained an entomological view of the history of art. This has provided insight both in the history of art itself as well as in the role of insects in its development. At present I have seen 3,045 works of art in which insects are represented. The majority occur in the Netherlandish still-lives of the 17th and 18th centuries, in surrealistic works and in Jugendstil works. Some artists have depicted only a single insect while others have represented over 100 insects in a single work of art. Of some artists I know only a single work with insects, while of others more than 100 works are known.
Original languageEnglish
JournalProceedings of the Netherlands Entomological Society meeting
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • insects
  • works of art
  • museums


Dive into the research topics of 'From Venice to Fabre: insects in western art'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this