Jan van Kessel

Jan van Kessel (1626-1679) was a member of the distinguished Brueghel clan of artists. His uncle, Jan Brueghel the Younger, was among his teachers. Van Kessel’s delicate animalia studies were enormously popular in the Netherlands in the 1650s, a time when interest in the natural world was booming, and when microscopes were beginning to reveal the diversity and intricacy of the insect world. So in their historical context, van Kessel’s compositions function both as works of art and as contributions to fields of science such as botany, entomology, conchology, taxonomy. But as an artist Jan van Kessel could also be playful: in one famous painting he arranged an assortment of caterpillars in such a way as to spell out his own name.