Jan Asselijn: The threatened swan

(Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands)

A swan fiercely defends her nest againt a dog (bottom left). If you look closely you'll see several lines of text which were added later. The nest has the text "Holland", the swan "de raadspensionaris/ The grand pensionary" and the dog "de viand van de staat/ the enemy of the state). These lines tranform the painting into a political allegory: the white swan symbolizes the Dutch grand pensionary Johan de Witt (who was assassinated with his brother Cornelis de Witt) in 1672) protecting the country from its enemies.

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