Princess Pricklepants and the Never Ending Story of Hedgehog Art Through the Ages


(previously)

Dear everyone,

We regret we’ve been remiss in reporting our wonderful journey into the world of hedgehog art history.  The good news is we’re working on a children’s book that should be something delightful and quirky assuming everything works out well.

We’ve discovered quite a number of works since the book was published.  In case you’ve forgotten to buy the book, you can find it here.  Well worth buying.  And if you already have a copy, you’ll find a second copy incredibly useful as you can read it in stereo.

While the book covered the period from the Renaissance forward, here we present works from the prehistoric to the Modern era.  We’re so excited to share these, we’ll skip a wordy introduction and present our first picture with words under it.

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We begin with a truly thrilling discovery. Further archaeological research of the El Castillo cave paintings discovered in Cantabria, Spain, has discovered this, the earliest hedgehog art yet discovered. The work, from c. 39,000 BCE, used stencils and ochre to create this simple but charming and historic painting.

 

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This is a doubly exciting find. First we present a recent discovery of an ancient papyrus (apparently inadvertently misplaced by E. A. Wallis Budge in a nook in the British Museum) presents a fascinating view of what scholars believe is a hedgehog goddess judging the souls of the deceased. Equally fascinating is that the transliteration of the hedgehog goddess’ name in Egyptian is ‘eid-zil-la’ – it appears that we have discovered the most ancient reference yet know in art history to Hedgezilla!

 

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Here we present a truly remarkable Assyrian bas relief of the Assyrian Hedgehog warrior goddess, Kwillamash, aiding soldiers in a siege. This piece is a detail from the North Palace at Nineveh belonging to Ashurbanipal (668-631 B.C.E.). This piece was only recently discovered in 1985, though was lost in Mosul in 2003, and is now only preserved in photos. It’s believed that Kwillamash was represented by a hedgehog due to their legendary ferocity and deadly quills.

 

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This Greek red figure vase from the early 5th c. presents many mysteries to the hedgehog art historian. It’s possible that the figures depict the tale of Aleterix answering the riddle of the Sphinx (in an unusual Lydian hedgehog form), or alternately this might a tale of Croesis where the figures were replaced with hedgehogs, or one of several dozen other accounts because hedgehog art historians with time on their hands can fill in blanks is all sorts of ways. Regardless, so far as as ancient hedgehog art goes, this is a wondrous masterpiece worthy of a long discussion we will spare you, dear reader, out of the kindness of our hearts.

 

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Here we present a charming Medieval manuscript depicting a hedgehog battling an owl. 15th c., from the Hatton Manuscript. This margin drawing depicts a hedgehog armed with sword and shield fighting an owl. Monks of the era must surely have known about the owl’s cruel habits and enjoyed drawing the underdog getting the upper hand.

 

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Sacred Hedgehog of Mary, Stained Glass, Cathedral of Trier (1430s). This is a very… odd work. Originally commissioned for the cathedral by Otto von Ziegenhain, Bishop of Trier. At the time due to an outbreak of lead poisoning there was a dire shortage of stained glass artists. A mysterious artisan named Egelkopf appeared and offered his assistance. While he was quite skilled in glasswork, he was quite poor at following instructions, and oddly obsessed with hedgehogs. While Bishop Ziegenhain was displeased at the results, and the piece created some controversy, it was eventually accepted. At some point later the phrase “NESCIMUS QUID SIT ERICIUS IN FENESTRA” (we don’t know why there’s a hedgehog there) was inscribed below so people would stop asking.

Egelkopf has been found listed in the mysterious manuscript from the 1500s, “Annales sermonum sublimis inter homines circa erinacei” (Annals of acts of greatness by humans to hedgehogs), a document deserving greater scholarly attention.

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Recently discovered, Da Vinci’s L’Ultima Cena Ma Con Ricci (The Last Supper, But With Hedgehogs) is difficult to explain, but clearly means something, and something big.  We’ve spent many long hours examining this work and seeking the secret meanings, and believe we’re onto something very, very big.  We’ve reached out to Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown about the many new layers of mysterious and conspiratorial meaning this adds to everything, though so far he hasn’t been very polite.

 

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One Da Vinci isn’t really enough, so here we share this, a likely second.  Vitruvian Hedgehog (c. 1490). Experts remain unsure whether the work is an original by Da Vinci, or a student’s sketch, but we think those experts are just afraid to admit the truth partially revealed in The Last Supper, But With Hedgehogs which prove this is also a Da Vinci.  Regardless of origin, or experts being picky about things, the work illustrates the perfection of proportions, and remarkable mathematical harmonies found in the hedgehog form.

Sorry to double-up on artists, this is the last time we’ll do that.

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Monet’s “Hedgehog with a Parasol” (1874). This masterpiece of hedgehog impressionism is so well known it needs no description other than simple words like “painting,” “pretty,” “awesome,” and perhaps a few other descriptive terms you can come up with yourself.

 

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Okay, this one was in the book.  But we’re throwing it out there, since it’s a Van Gogh, and we haven’t blogged about it, and it’s truly delightful to behold repeatedly. “The Starry Hedgehog Night” was a view painted from the east-facing window of his asylum room in 1888. The nurses noticed the various hedgehogs hidden in the painting and were concerned, so Vincent repainted the more well known version of the painting.

Much could be said, though it’s better to just look at it.

 

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Remember when we said we wouldn’t double up on artists?  We don’t either.  Here we present Vincent Van Gogh’s 1889 self-portrait, painted in the sanitarium at a point when he mistakenly believed he was a hedgehog.  This work presents a fascinating view of the post-impressionist hedgehog art master.

 

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Every collection of hedgehog is better if there’s an Alphonse Mucha work involved.  Here we present a print entitled, “Hungry, Hungry Hedgehog.”

 

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Finally, we present “Drawing Hedgehogs,” a lithograph by the Dutch artist M. C. Escher first printed in January 1948.  While there are copious words that could be expended on this work, we’re already well past the arbitrary 1000 word limit we set for blog posts, so we’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader to come up with a proper description.

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoy these magnificent works as much as we do, and until next time, adieu.

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Princess Pricklepants and Yet More Hedgehog Art Through The Ages


 

Previously.

Dear reader,

Apologies for the infrequent updates, Her Highness’ schedule has been busy with the duties of running for president and engaging in extensive art research while maintaining a fourteen hour sleep schedule (and responding to queries regarding etiquette advice).

While this post is about art, we did want to share this glorious vision of the future:

potus_podium

And, while we’re on the topic of the Princess Pricklepants’ Prickle Party run for President, for those who might have missed it, we wanted to mention that Her Highness’s Patronus is a hedgehog, which has made for a powerful campaign poster.

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And so this time we begin or post with our third picture with words under it.

mona-lisa

So far as recent hedgehog art discoveries go, this is historic.  In early 2016, hedgehog art researchers at the Louvre applied laboratory analysis of reflective light and color analysis to the Mona Lisa and made a truly remarkable discovery based on a recently discovered notebook by Da Vinci. The notebook referred to the work as “La Gioconda con Riccio” (happiness with hedgehog), while underpainting analysis now confirms the original work is actually a masterwork of hedgehog art. These are exciting times for hedgehog art critics and historians. We now know what the Original Mona Lisa looks like.

Irises-Vincent_van_Gogh

Here we have another fascinating and historic work, Vincent van Gogh’s “Irises and Also a Hedgehog.” An immediately striking painting created in the last year before his death in 1890, he considered this painting the study on which the later more famous hedgehog-less Iris painting was based on, though it stands alone as a sublime and magnificent work of post-Impressionist hedgehog art.

Belshazzar

Rembrandt’s first version of Belshazzar’s Feast was an enigma to hedgehog art historians for decades until it was discovered that Rembrandt had initially read a faulty Dutch translation of the book of Daniel that had translated the word “Writing” as “Hedgehog.” This work is housed in the National Hedgehog Gallery, London.

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Now as a first, here’s a second work from the same artist.  Forgotten for centuries, Rembrandt’s 1661 Portrait of a Lady With a Hedgehog is a high point in Baroque Hedgehog Art. While not as well known as his Belshazzar’s Feast With Hedgehog, this late work of Rembrandt’s, which highlights his masterful use of light, composition, and hedgehogs.  The work was only discovered post-WW II, having been lost in the basement of the Rijksmuseum.

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Maxfield Parrish’s 1921 “Hedgehog Break” is regarded as one of the most popular hedgehog art prints of the 20th century. Parrish later produced the human-centric “Daybreak,” which went on to even greater fame, though he always considered this work’s composition and symbolism as more powerful.

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While less well known, hedgehog art historians have been spending more time researching this 1648 portrait by Renato d’Angio of Isabella, Duchess of Lorraine (mother of Margaret of Anjou).  Isabella is holding the traditional panier d’ hérisson (hedgehog basket), a symbol of the mythology behind the family’s regal hedgehog lineage.

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Alma-Tadema’s 1884 A Reading from Homer to a Hedgehog is a lovely late Victorian painting. Through attention to details such as architecture and dress, Alma-Tadema’s work imaginatively re-created everyday life for hedgehogs in ancient times.

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Next we present Alphons Mucha’s delightful “P. Pricklepants.” The work is a masterful Art Nouveau print from 1897. Little is known about its origin, though the work appears to have been a 1897 commission by Marchioness Pricklepants of Paris.  It’s quite lovely, really, so wonderful there’s not much to say.  Just look at it!

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Her Highness was somewhat taken by Mucha’s work, so here is Alphonse Mucha’s, “Hedgehog Princess Perusing Art,” c. 1890. This is a truly lovely later work by Mucha, who clearly had a fondness for hedgehogs. Unfortunately, little is known about this work, though the greater subtlety and simpler composition than “P. Pricklepants” suggest this work was inspired by different themes.

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Finally, we present Jacques-Louis David’s 1786 “The Discomfort of Socrates,” which details the event of the initial cup of hedgehog handed to Socrates, because the jailer misheard “hemlock.” David’s masterful rendering of the cup being handed over is a truly powerfully captured expression of awkwardness.  Created by David for Napoleon’s palace, the painting was poorly received, and has been much less popular than the later version.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this journey through the remarkable world of hedgehog art. We’re planning to post on other topics in the future, but may discover other works which you can keep up on via Facebook or Twitter (we’re not great about our Instagram account, sorry).

Stay tuned for our next episode: Princess Pricklepants and the Never Ending Story of Hedgehog Art

Finally, in an awkward act of gross commercialism, we also suggest you take a look at our fabulous, tasteful, and sophisticated merchandise that will make the wearer seem even more to smart, attractive, and interesting than they already are.  Look, aren’t they cool?

Raphael’s Birth of Hedghog

Mucha’s Art Nouveau Hedgehog

My Patronus Is a Hedgehog

Van Gogh Irises and Also Hedgehog

These and more available here.

Also, there are notecards and things here.

 

Princess Pricklepants and More Hedgehog Art Through the Ages


previously

Dear reader,

Sadly, or perhaps happily, we haven’t offered much coverage of Small Furry Animal Campaign 2016, something we’ll work to rectify in some future post if we don’t get distracted by arguing with squirrels on Twitter, reading wikipedia (did you know about Moon Trees?), or researching hedgehog art through the ages.  But lately we’ve mostly been arguing with squirrels and researching hedgehog art through the ages.

Despite efforts to build bridges and create a Small Furry Animals coalition, radical squirrel partisans have created strife that’s even extended to some humans.

Breakfast_Table

Once again, there will be no story in this post per se other than the magnificent story of hedgehog art, a story that needs telling, and which goes on and on, perhaps endlessly, like a run-on sentence of art.

Let us begin with our first picture with words under it.

whistlershedgiemother

 

Whistler’s Hedgie Mother (formally titled Arrangement of Pets in Grey and Black No.1) was painted in 1869. Whistler eventually managed to convince his mother to stop posing for portraits with her pets in 1871. While both the pet-free and petful works are held by the Musée d’Orsay, the hedgehog version has not been exhibited yet.

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Leonardo Da Vinci’s Lady With a Hedgehog (c.1488-1489) is a true high point of Renaissance hedgehog art, masterfully executed.  The human subject is not known with certainty, though the hedgehog is strongly believed by experts to be Contessa Mirandella di Pricklipanzia, a distant relation of Princess Penelope Pricklepants via the Venetian line of the family.  While the hedgehog is an actual noble-hog,  as a hedgehog she also serves as a symbol of elegance, grace, and excellent manners.

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The enigmatic and sublime beauty of Raphael’s early work, Portrait of a Lady with a Hedgiecorn, has been a subject hedgehog art critics have discussed for centuries. The influence of Da Vinci on Raphael’s work is clearly seen here in the similarities to the Mona Lisa in pose, gaze, and format of this painting. Da Vinci’s influence can also be seen in the use of a hedgehog, following Da Vinci’s Lady with Hedgehog, and again symbolizing elegance, grace, and impeccable manners. A true Renaissance hedgehog art masterwork.

Caravaggio

Caravaggio’s Boy with a Basket of Fruit and Some Hedgehogs, c.1593, is a stunning work, the light, expressiveness, and technical execution are all superb, and illustrate the transition from the more constrained and austere styles of the Renaissance into the more dynamic, dramatic styles of the Baroque, as we can see by the pair of hedgehogs striking dramatic poses and the powerful lighting on the quills. Strangely, this work was not well accepted by the public. The culture of Renaissance Italy held unusual cultural superstitions regarding the idea of hedgehogs crawling in their food as “unclean.”  Caravaggio ultimately reworked the painting without hedgehogs (weakening the dynamics and drama the hedgehogs bring to the work).  The hedgehog painting was forgotten until it was recently rediscovered when a shopper bought the painting at a Goodwill in West Covina.

donatello

Donatello’s first version of this statue created for the Vatican was titled, St. Mark With Hedgehog  and was commissioned for St. Peter’s Basilica.  Sadly, Pope Leo X was not amused, and Donatello was forced to create another statue, this time without the hedgehog.  One little known fact about this work is that Martin Luther was finally motivated to write his 95 theses because of Leo X’s unwillingness to embrace hedgehog art (according to Uncle Pricklepants).

This work marks a true high point in our excursion through hedgehog art, as we’ve now shown hedgehog artworks by Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael, and Donatello, which completes the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle sequence, and unlocks the next level.

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Hogs Playing Poker by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge (yes, that really is his name) has generally been looked down upon by art critics who accuse the work of being faddish, kitschy, lowbrow culture, and a poor-taste parody of “genuine” art, which is why modern art critics are not worth listening to.  Several critics who aren’t jerks have noted that this work was very significant in helping bring hedgehog art into the modern mainstream in America, and point out Coolidge careful studied and used motifs, styles, and composition from Caravaggio, Cezanne, and other greats of hedgehog art.

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Once discovered, Caspar David Friedrich’s Wanderer Above the Sea of Hog (c. 1817) quickly became an iconic hedgehog work from the Romantic period. The self-reflective pose, and invitation to see things from the hedgehog’s perspective make this an incredibly powerful work which has been featured on the covers of hedgehog books, hedgehog album covers, and has become part of modern hedgehog culture.

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Finally, we turn to Warhol’s Four Hedgehogs (1962).  This work was accidentally left in the basement of the Tate until recently and was initially assumed to be some kind of parody of Warhol, while now art critics debate whether it’s parody, self-parody, meta-ironic parodying of self-parody, or the other kinds of things art critics argue about.  As with all Warhol works, it’s very hard to explain.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this continued overview of high points of hedgehog art and hope you may have learned something as well.  There are yet more works that we will likely share on Facebook and Twitter over time, and it’s likely our gift shop will be ultimately be carrying related merchandise over time, if you are a hedgehog art aficionado, keep an eye out.

Stay tuned for our next episode: Princess Pricklepants and the Mystery of Monkey Voters (working title)