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The Donkey Laden with Food, from Emblematic Figures of Animals

A work made of engraving on ivory laid paper.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of engraving on ivory laid paper.




Adrian van de Venne (Dutch, 1589-1662)
after Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder (Flemish, c. 1520-1590)

About this artwork

Prints of animals could be accurate and fanciful simultaneously. This finely engraved yet slightly caricatured scene from Aesop’s Fables depicts a donkey laden with fine food and wine who nonetheless happily gnaws at a prickly thistle instead. Moral interpretations of the text have ranged from “One man’s meat is another man’s poison” to a critique of stinginess. Though unsigned, this humorous image of feast and famine set off a chain of copies, ironically ending with a dozen Aesop roundels that decorated the back of trenchers, wooden plates used for the final fruit and nut course in England.


Currently Off View


Prints and Drawings


Adriaen Pietersz. van de Venne


The Donkey Laden with Food, from Emblematic Figures of Animals


Flanders (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Engraving on ivory laid paper


Plate: 27.3 × 20.5 cm (10 3/4 × 8 1/8 in.); Sheet: 27.4 × 20.7 cm (10 13/16 × 8 3/16 in.)

Credit Line

William McCallin McKee Memorial Endowment

Reference Number


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