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Art Diary

Roelant Savery’s Wondrous World

2 February 2024

At the turn of the 17th century, Roelant Savery (1576–1639) left Haarlem for Prague to become court painter to Emperor Rudolf II. It was there that he encountered the object that would help cement his reputation as a key figure of the Dutch Golden Age: a dodo, probably taxidermised, which he spied in the emperor’s extensive collection of rare animals. Savery’s numerous paintings and drawings of dodos have become among the most immediately recognisable depictions of the long-extinct bird, and it is these that form the centre of ‘Roelant Savery’s Wondrous World’ at the Mauritshuis in The Hague (8 February–20 May). The exhibition also features some of his landscapes; pioneering still lifes; cacophonous, fantastical scenes crammed with flora and fauna; and several of his street figures in Prague – the earliest known contemporary images of European Jews. Find out more from the Mauritshuis’s website.

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The Dodo and Other Birds (c. 1630), attributed to Roelant Savery. Natural History Museum, London

Sleeping Young Man, Probably Pieter Boddaert (1606–07), Roelant Savery. Centraal Museum, Utrecht

Flower Still Life with Two Lizards (1603), Roelant Savery. Centraal Museum, Utrecht