Johannes Bronckhorst

A study of an Emperor Moth

Johannes Bronckhorst, born in Leiden in 1648, was taught by his father from an early age. When his father died however, the young Johannes, aged 13, was sent to Haarlem, to work as a pastry baker in a shop owned by his cousin. He kept on drawing as a hobby, and eventually moved back to Hoorn to get married. He would remain there for the rest of his life.

Although he kept working as a baker, his drawings and watercolors of plants, birds and insects became very much sought after. Some were published as engravings, which in turn also became collector’s items. Johannes Bronckhorst taught several pupils, the most famous amongst which was Herman Henstenburgh. For the present work, the artist worked on a very fine type of parchment known as vellum. This almost translucent material is a very good medium for conveying the fine details of insects, such as wings and antennae.

The moth is not placed centrally in the present work; it appears the artist did this to achieve a little trompe-l’oeil effect. This would also explain the lopsided body of the moth, which brings the insect to life in a wonderful manner.

Artist: Johannes Bronckhorst (Leiden 1648 - 1727 Hoorn)
Medium: ink and bodycolor on vellum
Dimensions: 118 x 145 mm