(b. 1589, Amsterdam, d. 1644, Amsterdam)

Emblematic Still-Life

Oil on panel, 52 x 50,5 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

When the unusual combination of objects and inscription on this still-life is deciphered we learn that the tondo is an allegorical still-life intended to advertise the virtue of Temperance. The still-life, Torrentius's only known painting, depicts a huge, half-full 'roemer' (a glass used for drinking wine) between a long-spouted water flagon and a wine jug, with a horse's bridle above them. On the ledge there are two small clay pipes. The inscription on the sheet of music under the glass reads: 'That which exists out of measure perishes in evil immeasurably'. To the initiated, the implication is clear. Overindulgence in drinking or smoking tobacco (an intoxicant recently introduced from the New World) should be curbed. Hence the horse's bridle, and the water flagon and wine jug that flank the roemer, for if wine is diluted with water its intoxicating effect is tempered.