The term “child prodigy” is freighted with meaning.
For lots of folks, the phrase connotes brilliant tots performing complex mathematical equations, but the definition is actually much less strict.
Any child with a talent that belies their tender years could be considered a prodigy, from all the baby Einsteins out there to talented child performers like Shirley Temple!
And, of course, many of the world’s most famous artists were considered child prodigies in their time, before they became authentic grown-up geniuses. Dalí, Picasso, da Vinci: all showed flashes of artistic brilliance when they were still kids.
And now, there may be another fledgling master to add to their ranks.
Dušan Krtolica is a 13-year-old from Serbia who has been creating complex, detailed illustrations of the animal kingdom for years now.
He had his first national exhibition at age 8, and continues to create a prodigious and elaborate body of work, all reflecting a 19th–century zoologist’s fascination for animal physiology and complexity.
Dušan Krtolica was born in 2002, and got his start as an artist just two years later.
As a tot, he showed an early interest in the animal kingdom, and quickly began to translate his fascination into breathtakingly complex images.
Though he does draw animals on their own, he loves creating whole ecosystems, like the lively coral reef habitat pictured above.
He shares one of his earliest and most passionate interests with lots of little boys; he was always obsessed with dinosaurs as a little tyke.
But instead of playing with toy dinosaurs, he wanted to know absolutely everything about them in order to create accurate illustrations.
He even earned the nickname “Dinoboy” for his desire to know everything about the different dinosaurs in his portfolio.
Of course, as he’s gotten older, his area of interest has expanded to encompass the whole animal kingdom.
Parents and teachers report that his intellect is just as prodigious as his artistic talent, and he has whole taxonomies committed to memory.
According to Oddity Central, he can recite all 45 marsupials from memory.
It’s Krtolica’s eye for detail that really sets him apart.
He uses a magnifying glass to accurately recreate an intricate world buzzing with insect life, and carefully sets down every nuance, first in pencil, followed by a fine-tipped ink pen.
In many ways, his artistic talents have a lot in common with those of da Vinci, who scrupulously recreated human anatomy in his paintings and drawings.
His work also bears a striking resemblance to the illustrations made in the 19th century, a golden age for discovering new animal species and traveling the world.
Explorer-scientists like Darwin made immense voyages and captured what they saw in near-photographic detail for posterity.
In fact, Krtolica’s elaborate illustrations may even be inspired by some of these voyagers; he dreams of being a zoologist when he grows up, and wants to illustrate all of the world’s animals.
His artistic talent notwithstanding, he has a ferocious academic interest that feeds his commitment to lifelike illustrations.
Much like his Victorian predecessors, Krtolica creates worlds that teem realistically with life, but also serve to help catalogue dozens of species on one page.
This illustration of bird life at the seashore is a great example; not only is it a beautiful image, but it also captures a rich variety of species, from clearly identifiable pelicans to puffins.
Now 13 years old, with a birthday coming up in June, this young artist has already staged half a dozen exhibitions in his native Serbia and has been featured in art magazines and publications.
Already, his work is well-enough regarded that he could probably earn a tidy sum by selling prints and originals to the art dealers lining up to purchase his pieces.
Still, Krtolica has plenty of time before he decides what he wants to be when he grows up.
We’re sure his considerable talents will make him a success in academia or in the art world, whichever direction he chooses to go in.
Secretly, though, we hope he follows in da Vinci’s footsteps and does a bit of both; he’s already the quintessential Renaissance man!
If you’re stunned and amazed by this smart and talented young man, make sure to SHARE with art lovers and animal lovers alike!