Antwerp 1579 – Antwerp 1657
oil on canvas
165 x 233 cm
Inventory number 893
The Antwerp-born painter Frans Snijders was known as a painter of animals and Baroque still-lifes. He perfected the genre of pantry scenes, which rose to popularity in the wake of market and kitchen scenes. A copious supply of fruit, vegetables and nuts lies displayed in baskets and decorative bowls, spread out across a table and the ground. The fruit, grown in the orchards of the wealthy, represents an idealisation of country life. Except for asparagus and artichokes, vegetables were primarily part of the peasant diet. The apricots, peaches, quinces, strawberries, medlars and grapes seem freshly harvested, which is of course impossible, since they grow and ripen in different seasons. The scene is not a still-life in the strict sense: three animals are causing havoc in the room. A parrot is feasting on the grapes, while in the bottom right a monkey has made off with a basket of nuts. Like squirrels, monkeys and parrots were popular pets with the bourgeoisie. The growling dog that appears from under the table was supposed to guard the food, but with little success, it seems.
Snijders frequently recycled his most successful ideas. The cheeky monkey, for example, also appears in several of his other paintings, as do the vase with roses in the far left and the wicker baskets on the table.