Van Aelst specialized in still-life painting, but within this genre he was quite versatile, painting fruit and flower pieces, fish and forest-floor still lifes, and above all, hunting scenes with dead game and hunting gear.
Van Aelst seems to have been particularly influential in the development of this last type of picture, which became very popular after midcentury, and his paintings were greatly praised and fetched high prices.
This painting follows in a tradition of Dutch and Flemish flower still life paintings showing a pocket watch attached to a blue ribbon with a wind-up key. This is one of many recurring symbols of the Vanitas genre that Van Aelst and others used.
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