Curious creatures on show at the National Gallery

Frans Post drawing of a Brazil landscape-Courtesy of The National Gallery

By Paul Carton 

White-lipped peccary, Brazilian porcupine, nine-banded armadillo, capybara, jaguar, and white-eared opossum are just some of the animals on show in the ‘Curious Creatures’ exhibition at the National Gallery. The main feature of this exhibition is a recently discovered collection of drawings of these exotic animals from Dutch landscape artist Frans Post  whilst recording Brazil’s flora and fauna in the 17th century. The drawings will be complimented by zoological specimens of these creatures that have been are on loan from the Natural History Museum.

The drawings, thirty-four in total, which contain the rare animals along with drawings of Brazils landscapes were the main focus of Posts work but to this day were unknown to scholars following his work. Post was commissioned to do the work by the Dutch Governor General who had recently took control of North-Eastern Brazil from the Portuguese. There are also insightful inscriptions on Post’s drawings.  Post tells us that the white-eared opossum “puts its young in a pouch under its belly to protect it” when it’s being hunted. Meanwhile, a six-banded armadillo is inscribed as “a kind of armoured pig, two feet in size. Good to eat. Tastes like chicken.”

Director of the National Museum of Ireland, Lynn Scarff issued this statement “We are excited about this collaboration at the National Museum of Ireland. It is a fantastic ‘fit’ for both the National Gallery and the National Museum as it allows visitors to see the actual animals depicted in the pictures.  We are delighted to lend some of our zoological collections to such an exciting exhibition, and to have the opportunity for our curators to work together with the National Gallery of Ireland on something that we know will bring joy to all who visit. Once visitors have been through the Gallery exhibition, we would encourage them to pop over to the Natural History Museum, to explore further our collections”

The ‘Curious Creatures’ exhibition runs until the 9th of December and is free of charge.