The Dance of the Rats, Ferdinand van Kessel   attributed
Ferdinand van Kessel
The Dance of the Rats
DE
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Ferdinand van Kessel attributed

The Dance of the Rats, ca. 1690


Dimensions
41.5 x 47.0 cm
Physical Description
Oil on canvas
Inventory Number
1681
Acquisition
Acquired in 1922 as a gift from Paul Bottenwieser
Status
On display, 2nd upper level, Old Masters

Texts

About the Work

“When the cat’s away, the mice will play.” This proverb seems to be illustrated by the four comical rats dancing ring-a-ring-o’-roses. The brown shape in the background, which resembles the head of a fish or monster, helps to solve the puzzle. It is the fragment of a carved table base and reveals that the painting was cut out of a larger canvas. Scenes of animals parodying human behaviour are frequently encountered in Flemish painting. In that context, mice and rats are generally associated with vices such as drunkenness and gluttony.

About the Acquisition

Paul Bottenwieser was an art dealer in Berlin, about whom surprisingly little information survives. He gave the painting ‘The Dance of the Rats’ to the Städel Museum in 1922. This extraordinary picture holds a strong fascination for many viewers.

Audio

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    Basic information
  • 02:09
    Focus on art history

Work Data

Basic Information

Title
The Dance of the Rats
Painter
Period Produced
School
Object Type
Physical Description
Oil on canvas
Material
Technique

Property and Acquisition

Institution
Administration
Collection
Creditline
Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
Picture Copyright
© Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, Foto: U. Edelmann
Acquisition
Acquired in 1922 as a gift from Paul Bottenwieser

Work Content

Motifs and References

Genre
Main Motif

Iconclass

Primary
Associative

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Last update

24.11.2020