Confirmed by Dr. Fred Meijer of the RKD, The Hague, to the previous owner as an authentic work by Jan Davidsz. de Heem and dated to the time around 1640, when de Heem was living in Antwerp. In the encyclopaedia Holländische Stilllebenmaler im 17. Jahrhundert (Lingen 1995), the entry for Jan Davidsz. de Heem states: “Jan Davidsz. de Heem goes down in the history of art as one of the most important still life painters of the 17th century and likewise as an intermediary between Dutch and Flemish art. His work reveals the influence of various styles on a new, individualistic pictorial language… After moving to Antwerp, de Heem was at first inspired by the Flemish style of painting, which in particular connects him with such names as Frans Snyders, Adriaen van Utrecht, and Daniel Seghers. In the painter’s oeuvre, however, characteristics of Flemish painting, such as the large horizontal formats, richly brilliant colours, exuberant depictions of kitchens sumptuously stocked with food, banquet tables displayed in their entirety, and airy bunches of flowers, form a synthesis with his Dutch painting style acquired during his time in Leiden. This was a style of small forms, intimate and modest motifs, quiet compositions, and sober colours. In a unique way, Jan Davidsz. de Heem was able to open his work to the influence of Flemish painting without abandoning the Dutch ambiguity, restraint, and formal relationship to the picture surface. [In his flower and fruit still lifes] the Flemish lightness and interwovenness of figural motifs are combined with the clear emphasis on and underscoring of material corporality in Dutch painting… When he moved to Antwerp, de Heem began to freshen up his initially monochromatic colour tones with bold, brilliant colours. Above all, the centre of the paintings thus gained in liveliness and accentuation. And his spatial construction as well followed the intent to draw the view of the beholder to the middle zone of the picture….”
Jan Davidsz. de Heem was influential in the development of both a school and a style. Among his immediate students number such still life artists as his son Cornelis de Heem, Andrea Benedetti, Alexander Coosemans, and Elias van den Broeck. Walther Bernt, who wrote a no-longer-existing certificate for this painting in 1970, emphasized: “His [de Heem’s] later period was influenced by the Fleming Daniel Segher and represents the pinnacle of still life painting: in particularly well-balanced compositions, he has placed bouquets of flowers, baskets of fruit, food, marine animals, and costly vessels and glasses all together – often interspersed with flowers and tendrils. Birds, insects, musical instruments, and clocks are perfectly replicated; characteristic is the impasto painting of the grainy surfaces of the peels of oranges and lemons. Deep red or green curtains are sometimes used as a backdrop….” Jan Davidsz. de Heem is still regarded as one of the most significant still life painters of the 17th century.
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