Monkeys

From the Middle Ages on, monkeys were reputed to be mischievous and shameless and in art they frequently appear as a symbol of the devil. In 17th-century Dutch painting, a chained monkey refers to sinful man who allows himself to be ruled by lust. In The Fall of Man by Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem, the monkey is identified with a sanguine (fiery, energetic) temperament. Monkeys were also considered quite exotic. Owning such a creature was a luxury only the rich could afford. Apart from sin, monkeys were also associated with imitation. In the visual arts they are often shown ‘aping’ human activity.

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