, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Today I will use various images available in the Explore database of the Netherlands Institute for Art History (RKD). These images are of paintings which are in unknown (private) collections or in museums that do not display their art works in good resolution images on their website. Therefore a selection of the many works that otherwise would not be included. The emphasis is on works from the 17th century.

The first image is a painting by Frans Francken (II) dated 1618/1619 which shows an interior with paintings, shells, coins and a vase with flowers [1]; now in Antwerp, collection Rubenshuis. There is, however, a good colour image available [2], which also allowed to see a detail of a land shell shown. It is a sinistral specimen of Amphidromus.



A similar shell, although seen in a different position, may be seen on this still life by Balthasar van der Ast and dated 1625 [3].


The next painting is a work by Ambrosius Bosschaert (I), now in the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It is dated 1619–1621 [4].


The yellow shell on the right is painted in such position that makes identification difficult; possibly a Nanina species (?). Both this shell and the previous species are of south-east Asian origin.
The same shell shows up again in a painting dated 1626 and made by his son Ambrosius Bosschaert (II)[5].


Also Balthasar van der Ast had used (likely) the same shell in a still life ca. 1622 [6]. As these three artists were connected by family ties, this should not be a surprise.


This artist had, a few years later, also a shell of African origin in his possession. On the painting dated ca. 1630, now in the Centraal Museum in Utrecht [7], a species from the family Achatinidae is seen.


While these were examples of tropical shells in still lifes, one of the earliest paintings where a domestic snail is present may be this work attributed to Balthasar van der Ast and dated 1620–1629 [8]. It should be noted, however, that there is something strange with this snail as it seems to be a mirror image (sinistral). Perhaps it was not painted after a living example but from memory?


During the next decades European species, especially Cepaea, regularly can be spotted on works from different artists. We have seen already several examples earlier, but here is another forest floor still life where a garden snail (not occurring in forests) is seen. This work is by Otto Marseus van Schrieck and dated 1666 [9].


While Marseus van Schrieck was one of the artists who put quite frequently snails in his paintings, others rarely did. Some examples from less well-known artists with Cepaea to conclude.

Jean Baptist van Fornenburgh made this still life during the 1630s [10].


This still life is dated ca. 1637 and was attributed to Philips de Marlier [11]; the snail is a multi-banded morph of Cepaea.


This painting by Giliis Gillisz. de Bergh is dated 1600–1669 and was last seen on an auction in 1992 [12]. It was likely made in the 1630s or later.


Dated 1650–1655, this painting was made by Laurens Craen [13].


Pieter de Ring painted this still life ca. 1660 [14]; it has one Cepaea snail tucked away in the right-hand foreground.


Signed by [Martinus] Nellius, this painting is undated. The artist was active 1669–1719 [15]; the snail is a multi-banded morph.


This painting is attributed to Hendrick Schoock and dated ca. 1680 [16]. Now in the Centraal Museum, Utrecht.


During the 18th century and beyond, the still life gradually disappears and with it the snail. Some late examples are this painting dated 1796 and attributed to Johann Amandus Wink [17]…


…and this one made in 1812 by Jacobus Linthorst [18].


It illustrates the rise and decline of the snail in paintings, as well as the shift from ‘tropical secrets’ to ‘domestic commodities’.

[1] https://rkd.nl/explore/images/20826.
[2] http://bit.ly/1GhWdlR.
[3] https://rkd.nl/explore/images/104907.
[4] https://rkd.nl/explore/images/67514.
[5] https://rkd.nl/explore/images/25637.
[6] https://rkd.nl/explore/images/119858.
[7] https://rkd.nl/explore/images/6232.
[8] https://rkd.nl/explore/images/120166.
[9] https://rkd.nl/explore/images/114833.
[10] https://rkd.nl/explore/images/51245; https://rkd.nl/explore/artists/28654.
[11] https://rkd.nl/explore/images/198446; https://rkd.nl/explore/artists/52742.
[12] https://rkd.nl/explore/images/6612; https://rkd.nl/explore/artists/7159.
[13] https://rkd.nl/explore/images/105723; https://rkd.nl/explore/artists/18936.
[14] https://rkd.nl/explore/images/61146; https://rkd.nl/explore/artists/67085.
[15] https://rkd.nl/explore/images/113617; https://rkd.nl/explore/artists/59115.
[16] https://rkd.nl/explore/images/7672; https://rkd.nl/explore/artists/70979.
[17] https://rkd.nl/explore/images/214665; https://rkd.nl/explore/artists/84943.
[18] https://rkd.nl/explore/images/232054; https://rkd.nl/explore/artists/50287.