{link url="http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/collections/works-in-focus/painting/commentaire_id/orpheus-3033.html?tx_commentaire_pi1%5BpidLi%5D=509&tx_commentaire_pi1%5Bfrom%5D=841&cHash=fec9d558a8"}Orphée (Orpheus) by Gustave Moreau{/link}, 1865; Musée d'Orsay.


Looking at Symbolist Master Gustave Moreau's Orphée I am struck by something. No, not the exquisitely beautiful severed head. The two box turtles hanging out in the corner, trying to be under the radar.

I may not be a cheloniologist, but l think those are North American Box Turtles. Or possibly Indian Star Tortoises. Indian Star Tortoises may be more likely since Symbolists like Moreau were obsessed with a kind of romanticized "Oriental" aesthetic when they threw jewellery and patterned drapery around in their paintings. In any case, what are they doing in a painting by a French Symbolist set in Greek legend?

Invasive species? A piece of exotic ephemera?

How many other paintings in fine art history feature species out of their proper geological place?