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Collins was an Irishman who specialized in painting birds, game and fowl, and produced numerous large studies of birds in watercolour. The lobster's strange shape was much favoured by the Netherlandish painters of sumptuous displays of food and wine. Their paintings celebrate and sometimes moralise over sensual pleasures, and were thought particularly suitable for hanging over sideboards and in eating rooms. Though clearly inspired by them, Collins presents here an unusually simplified and startlingly decorative version of the theme, showing the cooked lobster waiting in lone splendour on a bare larder shelf, its colour set off by the blue-and-white English or Irish delftware dish.

September 2004