This painting by the famous German artist Carl Spitzweg (1808-1885) makes me smile every time I see it. It pokes fun of the curious practice of the 19th Century when many Europeans of means fancied themselves adventurers and scientists simply because they had the wherewithal and inclination to travel to exotic places. In The Butterfly Hunter, we have an intrepid naturalist encountering a pair of giant butterflies. The naturalist carries a bright red umbrella, a canteen and a variety of other supplies along with a dainty looking butterfly net. The sun reflects off of his spectacles, giving him an almost bug-eyed look at he gazes in astonishment at the huge blue butterflies which could never possibly fit into his little net.
Spitzweg completed this painting in 1840 and it is truly one of his most famous paintings. To learn more about this German painter, please visit our Carl Spitzweg biography.