Illuminating the illustrious Owl Butterfly
Don't you do it too? Walk past places for years and not venture in. Well we did, we stopped on the way home from Sunday lunch and went inside the Hofburg Palace's Butterfly House. An elegant, opulent greenhouse in the Hofburg Palace complex, Vienna.
"We buy the tropical butterflies' chrysalises, adding to our butterfly collection weekly", so the guide. They will emerge in their own time to flutter, feed and amuse. Of the 40 varieties, one stood out. A giant. The Illioneus Giant Owl, Caligo illioneus. Not keen to spread it wings, it clung to its trunk showing only its profile.
The story might end here. And would for the less curious. The English Lord Hastings we learn, was the protector of the two young Princes, heirs to an english throne usurped by Richard III. Hastings lost his head for his convictions, a brutal deed immortalised by Shakespeare's history drama, Richard III.
The Hasting Hours remained in the Hastings family until the turn of the twentieth century. It found its way into the remarkable manuscript collection of a one Charles William Dyson Perrins. Grandson of Perrins, of Lea and Perrins, whose secret recipe for Worchester Sauce brought fame and fortune. C.W. Dyson Perrins had the interest and wealth to bring together one of the world's most significant book collections heavy in medieval illustrations. His surviving widow gifted on her death in 1968 the Hasting Hours to the British Museum.
The illuminated Hastings Owl Butterfly and the real Owl Butterfly are both in safe houses, open to public view.
PS. The C.W. Dyson Perrins Collection (excluding the Hastings Hours) was sold in three auction sales by Sothebys London to raise fund for another of his passions: the Collection of Worcester Porcelain, which can be visited at The Museum of Royal Worcester .
© Text & Photographs Copyright Lifeart - Andrea Haumer 2016