“Occasio” – An Allegory of Favorable Opportunity

Dr. Joanna Winiewicz-Wolska talks about Frans II Francken’s “Occasio” (an allegory of favorable opportunity).
“Occasio,” a picture by Frans Francken the Younger (1581–1642), a member of afrom a large family of painters in Antwerp, was donated to Wawel Royal Castle in 1933. It was painted in 1627—the date appears on a book at the bottom left of the picture, and bottom center is a plaque with a Latin inscription which, loosely translated, reads: “Don’t let a favorable opportunity get away, in front he has a lock of hair, in the back he’s bald; seize him by the forelock.”

The picture was undoubtedly painted for the cabinet of a contemporary Antwerp collector, but the original patron remains unknown. Equally unknown was the destination of a nearly identical composition preserved in the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg. The theme of the painting had been subject to numerous interpretation. According to the most recent, proposed by Sibylle Appuh-Radtke, the picture depicts the ideal of the homo politicus and his state; it illustrates the theory of statecraft and law formulated by Plato in The Laws (Greek Nomoi).

An in-depth analysis of the picture, and other works of Netherlandish art, will be available in the forthcoming catalogue of Dutch and Flemish art in the collections of Wawel Royal Castle.

See on You Tube - part 1

See on You Tube - part 2

Dr. Joanna Winiewicz-Wolska is a curator in the Department of Paintings, Drawings, Prints, and Sculpture. Her scholarly focus is on Old Master European paintings and the history of the Lanckoroński collection. She is also fascinated with Karol Lanckoroński and is working on a major publication on the collector.