In the wake of Crawly creatures exhibition and as a sequel to the conference Art and Science in the Early Modern Low Countries (2015), the Rijksmuseum and the Huygens Institute will organize a one-day symposium. At this meeting, internationally renowned experts will present and discuss themes and challenges that were raised in curating the exhibition.

Issues and topics

Crawly creatures focusses on the lowest stages of the scala naturae. However, exploring these traditionally neglected creatures, the artists, scientists and collectors interested in them faced the same problems as their colleagues representing larger beings. How to catch and control them? How to draw them, and in which context? How important was color with regard to identifying and representing? Could an image be a valuable stand-inn for the creature itself? What was the influence of religion, and new philosophical ideas and practices (taxidermy and the introduction of the microscope for example)? Had a model or a life-cast the same ontological status, and could real butterfly-wings be included in paintings? At this symposium, these and related issues will be debated.

Confirmed speakers

  • Erma Hermens (butterfly-wings in paintings);
  • Alice Zamboni (insects and automata);
  • Jessie Wei-Hsuan Chen (observing, drawing, printing);
  • Kay Etheridge (the biology of color);
  • Ellen Pater and Eric Jorink (looking and drawing through microscopes).

Tentative program for the symposium:

9:30 Welcome
9:45 Kay Etheridge, on animal colors
10:15 Jessie Chen, on observing, drawing and printing
10:45 Coffee

11:00 Alice Zamboni, on insects, automata and the Cartesian worldview
11:30 Ellen Pater and Eric Jorink, on observing (and drawing) with microscopes
12:00 Questions, discussion
12:30 Lunch

13:30 Erma Hermens, on butterfly-wings and other organic material in paintings
14:00 Sachiko Kusukawa, on insects and other critters in the Sloane-herbaria
14:30 Tea

15:00 Key-note Pamela Smith (online), on reconstructing practical knowledge in the material world
15:45 Concluding remarks


Eric Jorink
+31 (0)6 -27 26 31 91

26 and 27 October 2022
Rijksmuseum and Artis Library

26 October

Drinks and exhibition visit, at the Rijksmuseum. From 16:30 to 18:30h.

27 October

Symposium, at Artis Library. From 9:30 to 16h.


  • general: € 45
  • student: € 20

For whom

Scholars, curators, artists and those interested in this exciting theme.