An entire collection of valuable possessions in just one painting?
That’s possible in the “Collector’s cabinet”, painted by Frans Francken II in 1619 and currently displayed in the KMSKA in Antwerp.
In just one painting you can find drawings, paintings, coins, flowers, and exotic shells. If you look closely, you can discover many interesting details. For example, Francken depicted a Japanese door lock, an oriental lacquerware, and a shark’s tooth. Not really “local” items, aren’t they? Those cabinets were indeed also called “cabinets of curiosities” or “varieties” in which collectors kept valuable possessions and artworks to give aesthetic pleasure to the observer and stimulate the intellectual experience.
No wonder the genre of the cabinets had success in the 17th-century century paintings! Thanks to works like these, artists were able to stimulate the interests of art collectors and established the importance of the Antwerp art market.
I love discovering all the tiny and interesting details included in this painting. I also find it fascinating how the artist is capable of representing smaller paintings in the painting itself!