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Dead Swan

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  • Rosemary Nassoori asked

    What do the animals and birds symbolise? What other symbolism is there.? I am a guide in a stately house and we have a Jan Weenix picture. I am often asked the above questions. Many thanks.

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Rosemary, In this particular picture, the symbolism refers to the idea of ‘vanitas’ or vanity. The splendid feathers of both birds have little use to them now, as life is ephemeral and short, and their feathers will not serve them any purpose in the afterlife. Likewise, the richly decorated vase and the grand mansion in the background fulfil the same, short-lived purpose to man. The picture thus depicts the enormous, yet futile value mankind attaches to vanity and beauty. Best, Frederieke

  • Sue Ucel asked

    Please can you tell me whether you have any work by the artist Allen Barker in your collection. Thank you Sue Ucel

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Sue, The Boijmans Van Beuningen collection owns one work by Alan Barker. It is an untitled drawing made in 1975. Kind regards, Frederieke

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More information

This still life is an exceptionally rich and decorative. The main theme is the dead swan which is hung by one leg and has one wing stretched out. Classic themes are depicted on the decorated garden vase on the right. The owner could claim social status with this painted catch, for it was a privilege to be allowed to hunt these large birds. Around 1700 the Dutch elite yielded to the taste of foreign courts, which had discovered the potential of Dutch art. When the 75-year-old Weenix painted this huge still life he had just delivered a series of similar game pieces to the Elector Palatine in Düsseldorf. The technique is typically Dutch but the size conjures up visions of foreign castles, and the subject speaks of power.

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Collection book

Collection book Order

Specifications

Title Dead Swan
Material and technique Oil on canvas
Object type
Painting > Painting > Two-dimensional object > Art object
Location This object is in storage
Dimensions Width 154 cm
Height 173 cm
Artists Schilder: Jan Weenix
Accession number 1962 (OK)
Credits Aankoop / Purchase: 1865
Department Old Masters
Acquisition date 1865
Age artist Unknown
Exhibitions The Collection Enriched (2011)
Research Alma
Material
Object
Geographical origin Northern Netherlands > The Netherlands > Western Europe > Europe

All about the artist

Jan Weenix

Amsterdam 1640/1641 - Amsterdam 1719

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