Allegorie der Tulipomanie [Allegory of Tulip Mania], by Jan Brueghel the Younger, 1640s. A satirical commentary on speculators during the time of “Tulip Mania”, an economic bubble that centered around rare tulip bulbs. — Source.

Singerie — from the French for “Monkey Trick” — is a genre of art in which monkeys are depicted apeing human behaviour. Although the practise can be traced as far back as Ancient Egypt, it wasn’t until the 16th century that the idea really took off and emerged as a distinct genre. Some of its most famous champions include the Flemish engraver Pieter van der Borcht (whose 1575 series of singerie prints were widely disseminated), Jan Brueghel the Elder, and the the two Teniers brothers, David Teniers the Younger and his younger brother Abraham Teniers. Into the 18th century the genre saw great popularity in France, particularly in the guise of the “singe peintre” (monkey painter), which offered up a perfect parody of the art world’s pomposity. With monkeys, along with apes, being our closest cognates in the animal world, they proved the perfect medium for the satirising of society, which so often thinks itself “above” the animal kingdom.

Kwakzalver [Quack], by Pieter van der Borcht (I), ca. late 16th century. A charlatan doctor sells a cure (seemingly for hangovers, though perhaps for hair loss) — Source.

You can see much more Singerie at The Public Domain.


  1. blf says

    That’s all a bit — well, a lot — sideways claims the mildly deranged penguin. These aren’t fantasy paintings of m——ys† pretending to be humans, they are actual photographs acquired from another disc by expeditions through L-space. Any resemblance to Roundworld is coincidental, and about as believable as not having slood.

    The first photograph, she says, is thought to be of a tulip match, a game which does not resemble cricket at all. One of the teams has just successfully concluded a play tricking another team into scoring on behalf of a third. They are now pausing to consult the rules “book”, which occupies the entire building seen to the left, to work out the precise details of the scoring. These pauses are a very common occurrence in games of tulip, so much so no-one knows how long a complete game takes to play. The first one ever played is still going on, several millennia later, as are many of the subsequent games. (A few games have been temporarily suspended due to continental drift.)

    Tulip is a very popular game, since the local employment law says attending a tulip match is paid time. Consequently, the economy is said to have collapsed due to everyone watching the tulip matches.

    The second photograph is thought to be of a duel. Unlike tulip matches, which have many teams, the local duels only have one duelist. Whilst it’s known duels are very rarely lethal — perhaps due to the absence of weapons in the collapsed tulip-watching economy — there is some evidence, she says, of the m——ys falling over from laughing, watching the self-duelist trying to find her or his opponent.

      † Beware the lurking Librarian!

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