Butterflies and insects

By HOLLAR, Wenceslaus, 1646 

Muscarum scarabeorum vermiumq varuiae figure & formae.

Natural History, Science & Medicine
  • Author: HOLLAR, Wenceslaus
  • Publication place: Antwerp
  • Publication date: 1646
  • Physical description: Oblong 8vo (165 by 198mm). Set of 12 etchings (title and 11 plates) tipped into album, fine impressions, uniform margins throughout, each print bears the collector’s stamp of the Brentano Collection on the verso, nineteenth century panelled calf.
  • Dimensions: 172 by 213mm. (6.75 by 8.5 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 18266


A complete set of uniformly brilliant impressions of this magnificent series of etchings, all in their first state. The decorative title shows an ornamental cartouche surrounded by insects, with the text inn an oval. The plates show, amongst others, grasshoppers, moths, butterflies, caterpillars, beetles, dragonflies, a bumble bee, and a wasp. They appear to be the first work executed by Hollar after his escape from Basing-House, when he at once adjourned to Antwerp, joining there his noble patron, the Earl of Arundel, whose valuable collection has also been transported to Antwerp.

Hollar copied the images, as he states on the title, from a set of coloured drawings in the Arundel Collection, which could possibly be the volume of drawings in colour of birds etc. listed in the Towneley sale of 1818, and there attributed (by the auctioneer?) to H. Thomas Moufet or Moffet, who has previously issued a similar book of butterflies and insects Insectorum sive minimorum animalium theatrum’, London, 1634. Such reprsentations of insects were not uncommon in early seventeenth century Dutch works on natural history. What may more have influenced H[ollar] is Diverse insectorum volatilium icones ad vivum… depictae per… D.I. Hoefnagel, published by N. Visscher in 1630” (Pennington).


1. Brentano Collection
The Collection of Antonia Brentano, daughter of Johann Melchior Birckenstock (1738–1809), whose collection of prints she inherited. Antonia married Franz Brentano, and the collection was sold in Frankfurt in 1870.

2. Ownership stamp of Vernon John Watney, Cornbury to loose front endpaper.
Vernon John Watney (1860–1928) was the son of James Watney (1832–1886), MP for East Surrey and member of a brewing family. Vernon John was chairman of Watney & Company’s Brewery from 1887–1898. From 1889–92 he was a Moderate Party member of the London County Council representing Westminster. He was Master of the Worshipful Company of Brewers for 1893–94. In 1901 he bought the estate of Cornbury Park, Charlbury, Oxfordshire. He was High Sheriff for Oxfordshire for 1908 and a member of Oxfordshire County Council, serving as vice chairman in 1927. 


  1. NHG Hollar 913–924 — all first state
  2. Pennington 2164–2175 — all first state.

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