Related by etymology to the words simulacrum (image) and similitudo (likeness, or portrait), and aligned with the artist through the popular adage ars simia naturae (art as the ape of nature), simiae (monkeys) came to act as symbols for art and avatars of the artist in the margins of medieval European manuscripts and cathedral sculpture.


The following archive explores the usage and implications of this trope. What do these images say about medieval theories of art? What representational mediums are involved? How did the cultural perception of monkeys influence this metaphor? Additional materials inserted into this archive suggest points of continuity and contrast with monkey figures from other literary and artistic traditions.