Meet the Tegu lizard, painted here by Maria Sibylla Merian. Tegu are intellegent and very social, known to seek out human affection like a pet dog. Exotic animal veterinarian Dr. Mark gushingly calls them “the best, the perfect pet lizard.” We do not know Merian’s precise thoughts on the tegu, but she certainly painted this one with a smile on his face.
In 1699, sold 255 of her own paintings to fund a research trip from her home in Amsterdam to Suriname in South America. For two years she explored the Dutch colony there, documenting the local flora and fauna. This lively fellow was painted during her trip, and is known as an Argentine black and white tegu (Salvator merianae), a large species of lizard found in South American rainforests and savannas.
Reed Enger, "Black Tegu Lizard," in Obelisk Art History, Published May 14, 2017; last modified May 19, 2021, http://arthistoryproject.com/artists/maria-sibylla-merian/black-tegu-lizard/.