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Still Life with a Lobster

Attributed to Frans Snyders, Flemish (active Antwerp), 1579 - 1657

Made in Southern Netherlands (modern Belgium), Europe

17th century

Oil on panel

27 3/8 x 41 13/16 inches (69.5 x 106.2 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:
Cat. 700

Credit Line:
John G. Johnson Collection, 1917

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Frans Snyders synthesizes symbolic and spiritual references with the presentation of both humble and opulent foods typical of a banket (table) still life. He includes costly elements, such as pronk goblets and Venetian glasses, as well as lobster, considered a luxury because it could not be fished off the Dutch coast. Lobster also symbolized instability due to its ability to crawl both forward and backward. Herring (center right) was an important element of the seventeenth-century maritime economy as a source of profit for the Netherlands, but it was a modest, local food. Wine and bread in still-life paintings have spiritual significance as they refer to the sacrament of Holy Communion.