I don’t always get round to sharing my handmade books which I make on Etsy – but this time I thought I would . The book came about from a conversation with a wonderful customer, who often orders from me to gift to her ( numerous) grandchildren and friends. One grandson had recently graduated and specialised in moths, and she was curious whether I could make a book to celebrate his interest. That is always a great starting off point for me – someone else’s interest. It stimulates and challenges me to research a subject that I wouldn’t have necessarily considered. This was going to test me, because I could not possibly tell this young man anything he didn’t know about his special interest. But I decided that coming to it from the angle of art history may be a way in. And it was. I was blown away by the fine work that Wencelaus Hollar produced in 1646 in Flanders . I found the drawings in a collection by Gothard Monrad at Te Papa.
Gothard Monrad (1811–1887) was a prominent figure in nineteenth-century Denmark: a bishop in the Lutheran church, he was also a noted scholar and politician. Privately, he was a connoisseur of art, collecting fine prints by numerous European old masters and paintings by contemporary Danish artists.
Monrad’s collection includes engravings, etchings, and woodcuts, beginning with two engravings from the 1470s by Italian artist Andrea Mantegna. The collection’s sixteenth-century German engravings form a significant group, and include works by Albrecht Altdorfer, Albrecht Dürer, and the brothers Hans and Sebald Beham.
The collection has now been reassembled at Te Papa according to Bishop Monrad’s own catalogue of 1869.
Two facts I discovered about the Moth world that I will share – moths are among the most diverse and successful organisms on earth and scientists estimate there are 150,000 to more than 500,000 moth species. Wowzer!
I was delighted to send this little volume to my customer, and was thrilled to receive in return these lovely comments;
‘The MOTH book arrived safely and in fine time. How very astute you were for the covering of the moth pages. It is perfect for a young man, very handsome. As I look through the pages several times, I am beginning to wonder if John will appreciate this work as much as I do. Should I or should I not? Oh, I guess so, I will gift him with it with the stipulation I can view it off and on. I must quit looking through you web site, as I soon will spend all my pennies on your art. Thank you for this piece especially since I ordered it and you came through with flying colors
Appreciation is a wonderful thing! So if you have any subject you want me to consider adding to my bookshelves over at Etsy, send me a line. Or you could browse the items I make to order here Coptic stitch books at Modestly at Etsy