Treasure Island

  • Since the times of conquistadors Cortes and Pizzaro, people are in search of that fantasy
  • land of El Dorado where "rivers flow purer than silver" and mountains glisten with gold.
  • The worldwide popularity of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, is one example.
  • On the other hand, there is that age-old drive to out-do Nature.
  • The medieval rulers of the East adorned their palaces with imitations of nature as a symbol of luxury.
  • One was reported to have a lake of mercury so that at night the radiance of themoon would be complemented by the glow of mercury.
  • Another put a tree with branches made of gold and silver in the midst of the courtyard pond.

The island depicted by the artist is not simply the "treasure island" we all know, it is itself a treasure. We see flowers and plants shooting forth with jewels, mountains made of silver, and a sea of sapphire. The symbol of this artificial world – a gold coin repeated in the wings of the metal butterfly – shines dimly on the horizon.