nicolaas struyck

While these illustrated insects appear incredibly lifelike, Dutch artist, Nicolaas Struyck, likely worked from dead specimens that had been a part of a wealthy person’s “curiosity cabinet” collection. Through the 17th and 18th centuries, collecting exotic flora and fauna became a way to emote status among the elite. 

We know that the rare long horned beetle is native to Indonesia, which was a Dutch colony in Struyck’s time. The creature was likely brought to the Netherlands where it would have probably been showcased with items ranging from artworks to shells, crystals, minerals. The collections were seen as a microcosm of the universe, “juxtaposing the wonders of man with those of God or nature.” 

These vibrant and energetic insects look pretty lively considering Dutch artist Nicolaas Struyck most likely worked from dead specimens. 

Art and science at the time were not separate disciplines, and Struyck was actually neither professional artist, nor scientist. He was a noted mathematician and made these highly skilled amateur drawings as a hobby.

Four Beetles and a Flying Stink Bug, 1715, Nicolaas Struyck, Dutch, pen and black ink, watercolor, gouache, gold paint with white gouache heightening, and pen and brown iron-gall ink. J. Paul Getty Museum.