van Schrieck, Otto Marseus

Serpents and Insects


Place Made
The Netherlands
Oil on canvas
framed: 45 1/4 x 35 1/2 in (114.935 x 90.17 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of John J. Cunningham
Accession #

Van Schreick based his paintings upon the rare insects, frogs, lizards, and snakes that he raised in a vivarium. After a while, the snakes became so tamed that when the artist positioned them with his stick, they remained there until he moved them himself. His close view point, painstaking fidelity, and unusual zoological subjects are the characteristic elements of his somewhat bizarre imagery. As it illustrates the brutality of the natural world, this painting may convey a vanitas theme, a favorite Dutch reminder of the brevity of life.