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17th century
Material and technique
oil on canvas
193 x 171 cm
Alessandro Zuccari
This painting well illustrates Cerquozzi’s skilful rendering of natural subjects. Almost the whole of the canvas is covered with a grapevine and a fig tree, whose intertwined leafy branches are heavy with fruit. In the foreground a kneeling woman removes the snails from the leaves and drops them into a basket. She is turned towards the viewers as if to  involve them in the scene. A little to the right, a boy tries to pick the fruit hanging from the fig tree:  he reaches up, one foot resting on a large watermelon on the ground. On the lower edge of the painting the artist has inserted elements of still-life consisting of bunches of grapes and ripe pomegranates.
Cerquozzi’s interest in genre scenes inspired by the day-to-day life of peasants and workers was sparked by the work of the Bamboccianti, a group of Dutch and Flemish painters based in Rome and named after Pieter van Laer, known as ‘Il Bamboccio’. Cerquozzi achieved a vivid realism through his extraordinarily faithful rendering of elements of nature, notably fruit and vegetables. This is illustrated by the yellowing vine leaves in the upper left part of the painting.
The Harvesting of Snails
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