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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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Garden vase

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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.


Title Dead Swan
Material and technique Oil on canvas
Object type Painting
Location This object is in storage
Dimensions (general) Width : 154 cm
Height : 173 cm
Makers Painter: Jan Weenix
Accession number 1962 (OK)
Credits Aankoop / Purchase: 1865
Department Old Masters
Acquisition date 08-05-1865
Age maker About 76 years old
Exhibitions The Collection Enriched (2011)
Research Alma
Material Oil > Paint > Artist's material > Material > Material and technique
Canvas > Worked fibres > Fibre > Vegetable material > Organic material > Material > Material and technique
Object Painting > Painting > Two-dimensional object > Art object
Geographical origin Northern Netherlands > The Netherlands > Western Europe > Europe

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All about the maker

Jan Weenix

Amsterdam 1640/1641 - Amsterdam 1719