Title

The Dragon Tree in the Age of Exploration

Author

Leá Norcross

Date of Award

2012

Document Type

Masterʼs Research Paper

Degree Name

M.A.

Department

Art & Art History

First Advisor

M.E. Warlick

Second Advisor

Scott Montgomery

Keywords

Trees in art, Engraving

Abstract

he dragon tree, a peculiar species native to Socotra, southwest Arabia, east Africa, Morocco, Macaronesia, and the Canary islands, possesses an intriguing iconographic history. The first wave of images date from 1470 to 1550, beginning with Martin Schongauer’s 1470 engraving of The Flight into Egypt. These depictions portray the dragon tree in the context of a handful of biblical themes and with apparent symbolic import. After 1550, religious images of the dragon tree vanish abruptly and are replaced by representations of an empirical nature. Dragon tree iconography is notable for the extent to which it did and did not leave an impression on European art. In this paper I examine the inability of dragon tree images to gain the momentum required to propel them into European iconography more permanently, and the forces that may account for the abrupt change from biblical to botanical renderings.

Comments

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