Presentation Title

The Honey Bee in Western Art

Location

Guzman 104, Dominican University of California

Start Date

4-17-2019 5:20 PM

Department

Graduate Humanities

Student Type

Graduate

Faculty Mentor(s)

Joan Baranow, PhD and Sandra Chin, MA

Presentation Format

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Description

This paper studies the ways in which the honey bee is used as a symbol in Western art, specifically between the 1st century AD and the 17th century. Artists have had a close relationship with honey bees since they first drew scenes of life on cave walls; since then, honey bees have been a recurring image featured in artworks spanning centuries, cultures, and religions. During the Renaissance in Europe, the honey bee was adapted from a symbol associated with fertility and polytheistic cult rituals to become a symbol of eloquence in Christianity. The community-based, diligent nature of the honey bee resulting in the surplus of sweet honey helps to explain the continued representation of the honey bee in art. Considering the complex nature of the honey bee’s role in human life, it is plain to see why artists have gravitated towards the honey bee for use as a symbol for centuries. By studying the symbolism of the bee in several paintings from the Renaissance –“Artemis of Ephesus” from the 1st century AD, “Venus With Cupid Stealing Honey” by Lucas Cranach the Elder from 1472, “The Miracle of the Bees” by Juan de Valdes Leal painted in 1673, and finally “The Tomb of Pope Urban VII” sculpted by Gianlorenzo Bernini between 1627 and 1647)—I intend to explore the meanings behind the relationship between the honey bee and the culture that produced these works of art and the way that it continues to steadily evolve and adapt to suit the time and the artist’s portrayal.

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Apr 17th, 5:20 PM

The Honey Bee in Western Art

Guzman 104, Dominican University of California

This paper studies the ways in which the honey bee is used as a symbol in Western art, specifically between the 1st century AD and the 17th century. Artists have had a close relationship with honey bees since they first drew scenes of life on cave walls; since then, honey bees have been a recurring image featured in artworks spanning centuries, cultures, and religions. During the Renaissance in Europe, the honey bee was adapted from a symbol associated with fertility and polytheistic cult rituals to become a symbol of eloquence in Christianity. The community-based, diligent nature of the honey bee resulting in the surplus of sweet honey helps to explain the continued representation of the honey bee in art. Considering the complex nature of the honey bee’s role in human life, it is plain to see why artists have gravitated towards the honey bee for use as a symbol for centuries. By studying the symbolism of the bee in several paintings from the Renaissance –“Artemis of Ephesus” from the 1st century AD, “Venus With Cupid Stealing Honey” by Lucas Cranach the Elder from 1472, “The Miracle of the Bees” by Juan de Valdes Leal painted in 1673, and finally “The Tomb of Pope Urban VII” sculpted by Gianlorenzo Bernini between 1627 and 1647)—I intend to explore the meanings behind the relationship between the honey bee and the culture that produced these works of art and the way that it continues to steadily evolve and adapt to suit the time and the artist’s portrayal.