Friday, November 14, 2008

Floris Gerritsz Van Schooten

Floris Gerritsz Van Schooten, Still life with Larder, farmyard fowl, a turkey, pigeons, a plover, duck, a starling, partridge and snipe, with game and songbirds and rabbits suspended from nails, a rib of beef, a bong and an artichoke, grape, with copper pans, watched by a couple seated at the end of a table, a landscape with two men visible through the embrasure, 1621

'Vogelen' (literally 'birding') was a slang term for fornication in 17th-century Holland, and a then-familiar double-entendre is intended by the (vogels) in the present picture. They are in no short order. Here we have varieties including partidge, duck, turkey, pigeon, snipe and songbird to name a few. The painterly pun is emphasized in particular by the hen held in the man's lap. Van Schooten thus alludes to the amorous intent of the young woman who is distracting him with her charms while picking his pocket. But is he the cleverer of the two? The man might enjoy the caresses of the burgling woman over his shoulder while also meeting the embrace of another: Sweet Lady Bong.

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