Formerly attributed to Ambrosius Bosschaert the Younger and then to Clara Peeters, this picture was first attributed to Linard in 1991 by Ingvar Bergstrom who deemed it his earliest known shell painting datable to circa 1620. Only a handful of securely attributed shell paintings by the artist are known and only one is signed - a picture dated 1621 (or 1624) in a private collection. Another example, dated 1638, was formerly on the Swiss art market (see S. Segal, A Prosperous Past, Amsterdam, 1988, p. 231, no. 12; and p. 89, fig. 5.7) and the latest known work is the picture dated 1640, with Colnaghi, London, 1991-2. These paintings, the present one included, catered to a growing interest in exotic shells that arose in the early seventeenth century. As Sam Segal has pointed out, collections of shells from the tropics were already being formed in the sixteenth century and with ever rarer specimens coming onto the market in the following century, shells became highly prized by connoisseurs (ibid., p. 77).
We are grateful to both Fabrice Faré and Fred Meijer for independently suggesting the present attribution on the basis of photographs.