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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].

NGI_476_

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”.

NGI_476_d

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.

Notes:
[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.

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