Studio of Frans Snyders

The Cock and the Jewel

The Cock and the Jewel by Studio of Frans Snyders

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Still-life and landscape paintings proliferated in Antwerp and in the Netherlands in the 17th century. The Twelve Years Truce (1609-1621) had the effect of bolstering Antwerp’s economy and in turn expanding the city’s art market. Still-life, landscape and genre scenes were commissioned by the wealthy and the elite, demonstrating their ability to consume and commission for aesthetic pleasure. Although landscape and still-life scenes belonged to the third category of art (below historical and religious scenes), they became a sought-after genre in the courts and grand houses of Europe in the second half of the 17th century. Focussing on the decadent, playful, and pastoral, still-life and landscape scenes reflected the optimism of peace time, which afforded people the opportunity to revel in life’s more simple pleasures.

As with other still-life, landscape and genre paintings from this period, “The Cock and the Jewel" conveys an underlying moral message. The subject is taken from the Fable from Plato’s Phaedrus III, 12: 'A young cockerel was looking for food in the manure when he found a pearl there. "What a thing you are to be lying in such an unworthy place!" he exclaimed. "If only someone who longed to possess something of such value had found you, you would long since have been restored to your original splendour. But instead it is I who have found you, when I would have much preferred to find some food: this is not going to do you or me any good at all." This is a story I tell for those who do not know how to appreciate me [i.e. Precious things are for those that can appreciate them]'.

Title
The Cock and the Jewel
Artist/creator
Production date
circa 1620
Medium
oil on canvas
Dimensions
1690 x 2400 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of the Arnhold Family, 2016
Accession no
2016/21
Copyright
Copyright Expired
Department
International Art
Display status
Not on display

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