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An Enchanted Cellar with Animals
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Cornelis Saftleven
Dutch, about 1655 - 1670
Black and red chalk, gray and brown wash, and watercolor
10 1/8 x 12 5/8 in.
86.GG.17

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Scenes of animals performing human actions and taking over human habitats were popular in Cornelis Saftleven's day. Adding color further enhanced the visual appeal and, hence, marketability of such pictures. Saftleven made An Enchanted Cellar with Animals, one of the largest and most elaborate animal fantasies he ever created, as a finished work of art in its own right.

Saftleven liberally applied lively black chalk and gray wash and intentionally restrained the use of color. The sparing touches of red, yellow, and blue watercolor heighten the comic subject's playful, festive quality. As he typically did, Saftleven included cooking implements and other bits carelessly strewn about and evoked a mood of enchantment by setting the scene in a shadowy vaulted interior with flying bats. The hidden human observer, here peeking out from the curtained doorway, was a stock figure in Netherlandish satirical and moralizing imagery of the 1500s and 1600s.

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