Emperor Moth, 1889
Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)
Van Gogh found this moth – which he in fact believed to be a death’s-head moth – in the garden of the hospital at Saint-Rémy. It had ‘wonderfully fine colors, black, gray, a nuanced shade of white with a red sheen that, instead, sometimes seems to be olive green; it is very large. To be able to paint it, I had to kill it, and that was a pity with such a beautiful beast.’ He made a detailed drawing of it, and also this painting, in which he placed the moth against a background of Lords-and-Ladies (Arum).