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Frans Francken the Younger (1581–1642) was a Flemish painter from Antwerp [1], and a member of a large family of artists [2]. He was a master in different generes, but the painting today pictures a collector’s gallery and is in the collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna [3]. This work is dated 1636.


On this painting many objects and several persons are to be seen. Besides several sea shells, the yellowish shell in the left-hand foreground attracted my attention. It is a sinistral shell, viewed from the ventral side; it has dark axial markings above the aperture. This is an Amphidromus species, originating from S.E. Asia.


There is a similar work of Francken dating from 1625, also said to be in the same collection [4]. Here the same species is pictured, but the style is somewhat coarser.


Although there are slight differences in these shells, it is probable that Francken used the same specimen. These tropical shells were still rare at that time.

[1] http://explore.rkd.nl/explore/artists/29002.
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francken.
[3] KMW, inv. GG 1048. http://bilddatenbank.khm.at/viewArtefact?id=751.
[4] http://bit.ly/1jK3wss.