Jan Brueghel, Guinea Pig Afficionado

We went to the Getty today and saw this exhibit of works by Brueghal and Rubens. One of the strange things we noticed was how many guinea pigs there are in these paintings. Of the seven paintings featured on the Getty website, four of them (Return from War, Garden of Eden, Flora and Zephyr, and Madonna and Child) contain guinea pigs. (Madonna and Child also contains a jackelope, but that’s a whole 'nother can of worms.) That percentage held for the exhibit as a whole. Once you started noticing them, those damn guinea pigs were everywhere!

They were always painted in pairs. They were always in the foreground. They were always eating something … usually peas, but sometimes lettuce.

My question is: What’s the deal with the guinea pigs? Is there some symbolic significance to the guinea pig in 17th Century Flemish art?

So … that whole tulips from hamster jam thing was true?

Well… they’re cute.

Oh yeah, it says something about the pigs on that site.

Pochacco, I love you.

{wiping a tear of happiness from his steely grey eye}

Appearances of Guinea Pigs in the paintings of Rubens and Brueghel. I like to think that this is what **Cecil ** had in mind when he created the Cafe Society forum.

The Dutch had bits of South America and these things were very exotic and interesting. See also the frequent appearance of capybaras in Frans Post’s paintings. I don’t think there’s much symbolism except the vague ‘vast empire and riches of the world’ aspect. Like having tulips in the picture. Exotic, expensive, ours now.

(and yes yes I realise neither Breughel nor Rubens are “Dutch” but the same things go for occupied Flanders under the Habsburgs, no?)

The Jackelope makes me incredibly, incredibly happy. That is all.

How can I doubt the opinion of someone named capybara?

Unless there’s a poster named **cavy ** who wants to chime in with a better explanation … .

Thanks guys!

BTW, I bought a postcard of the two guinea pigs from the Mars and Venus painting as a souvenir!

Maybe it’s like Tod Browning’s love of armadillos.

(If you haven’t seem 'em, pay close attention to his 1931 Dracula. Gotta love them Transylvanian armadillos. I wonder if they get run over in the middle of the Borgo Pass by ancient coaches?)

Alert the outlying bureaus: One of our recon agents has been spotted. Initiate Phase Two of Operation Manelope at once. I know it’s earlier than planned, but dammit, they’ve forced our hand.