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Round-up is intended as a series of posts dealing with artists of which works containing snails have been found, but for which no detailed images could be obtained or otherwise adequate information about the current location is missing (e.g., in private collections, in art galleries). These posts are thus (partial) ‘mini monographs’ for an artist but may nevertheless appear as different parts if many works for a given artist are available with scanty information.

The first artist in this series is Jan van Kessel the Elder (1626–1679), who always worked in Antwerp [1].

In 1649 this vanitas still life was painted, which was auctioned in 2007. It is entitled “Garland of flowers, including irises, parrot tulips and roses, surrounding a stone niche inset with a vanitas scene” [2, 3]. On the edge of the table a snail is visible, which looks like a multi-banded morph of a Cepaea species.



A multi-part painting was made in 1657, of which this central part is a Study of insects, two lizards and a salamander [4]. In the upper right-hand corner a snail can be seen viewed from the top. It is difficult to decide on the basis of the low resolution image which species this could be. A possibility is, given the colour of the animal, an Oxychilus species.


Likely the same species is seen on this study of insects, lizards and a snail [5].


The painting “A still life of roses in a glass with numerous insects, including butterflies, a ladybird, a bee and a dragon fly, together with further insects and small songbirds, including two bluetits” is dated 1669 and was auctioned in 2008 [6, 7]. In the foreground on the left a snail is crawling (seen in lateral view). The top of the shell seems to be a bit too protruded. It does seem, however, not to represent one of the obvious species (like a Cepaea).



Another interesting painting of this artist is in the Galerie d’Art Saint Honoré, Paris. It is a ‘trompe l’oeil’ with a frog and a snail. The snail has – very inventively – been put upside down on the upper border. [8]


As there are signs of fine, axial ribbing on the whorls, in combination with the colour pattern this could be a specimen of Candidula sp. (family Hygromiidae [9]).

Van Kessel thus seems to have chosen some of the uncommon species, but always accurately painted them as dextral specimens.

[1] https://rkd.nl/explore/artists/44093.
[2] http://bit.ly/1vJxu3T.
[3] https://rkd.nl/explore/images/196893.
[4] https://rkd.nl/explore/images/210493.
[5] https://rkd.nl/explore/images/65231.
[6] http://bit.ly/1vK65Qk.
[7] https://rkd.nl/explore/images/228583.
[8] http://to.ly/xGUU.
[9] Naggs et al. 2014. An illustrated guide to the land snails of the British Isles. Joint Conchological / Malacological Society Publication.