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In the National Gallery in Dublin an oil on wood panel is present, made in the late 1660s by Godfried Schalcken (1643–1706) [1]. This artist mainly worked in Dordrecht and The Hague [2]. The painting is entitled “Pretiose Recognised”, and the following information is given: The true identity of Preciosa is revealed as she displays to her astounded parents a moon-shape birthmark on her left breast. She had been abducted as a child by the old gypsy woman, Majombe, who now confesses to save Preciosa’s lover, Don Juan, from trial by he father, a magistrate. Her jewellery and notice of disappearance lie on the floor, the unblemished rose in a marble bowl being a metaphor for her innocence. The incident comes from Cervantes’ short story ‘The Little Gypsy’, which was translated into Dutch and performed as a play. The picture is highly theatrical in terms of the facial reactions and the costumes, which range from plain drapes to satin, brocade and silk [1].


This is the painting to which Dittrich & Dittrich referred as the snail as symbol for extravagance [3]. They say: “Die Rosen im Kupferkessel vor dem sitzenden Mädchen und die Schnecke die auf dem Rand sitzt, symbolisieren Liebe und Tugend eines vorbildlich züchtigen jungen Mädchens”.


Resolution of the available picture is not high enough to see further details of the snail, but it looks to me a somewhat stylised species.

[1] NGI, inv. 476. http://bit.ly/1r9oNBx.
[2] https://rkd.nl/explore/artists/70145.
[3] Dittrich, S. & Dittrich, L. (2004). Lexikon der Tiersymbole. Tiere als Sinnbilder in der Malerei des 14.–17. Jahrhunderts: 465. Imhof, Petersberg.