The Shell (Conus marmoreus), Rembrandt van Rijn, 1650
Collecting exotic shells was a popular hobby in the 17th century, and it excited Rembrandt’s interest too. He had a small natural history collection of his own, including this marbled cone shell; it is similar in shape to the conus cervus, a ‘deer’ cone. He rendered the form and markings of the shell with meticulous care on the copperplate. Note that the shell appears in mirror image.