Allegory of the Friendship with Abraham Ortelius
The owl holding a caduceus is described as Hermathena, the combination of Mercury and Minerva, and certainly stands for the 'artistic genius' that inspires the artist — the signature by the artist on the lower right indicates "Georgivs Houfnaglivs. D . Genio duce" (that is following his genius). The plate also represents the painter's friedship with the humanist Abraham Ortelius. The two butterflies, accompanied respectively by instruments for painting and instruments for cartography, are said to represent Ortelius and Hoefnagel.