Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Silver, Room 69, The Whiteley Galleries

Still Life with Fruit and Silver

Oil Painting
ca. 1675-ca. 1700 (painted)
Artist/Maker

The harmony of the colours and almost monochrome appearance of this work recalls the banketjes or banquet scenes painted by Haarlem painters such as Pieter van Roestraten from the mid 1600s onward in which strong local colours were replaced by an overall hue of greenish grey, submerging the objects into an aura that encompassed each one of them. Roestraten was a Dutch painter who apprenticed to Frans Hals in Haarlem until 1651 and married his daughter in 1654. Sometime between 1663 and 1665 he went to London where he specialized in rich and decorative flower paintings and still-lifes, strongly influenced by the luxurious pronk stilleven style of the Amsterdam painter Willem Kalf. Roestraten artist was renowned for his skilful depiction of silver (candlesticks, porringers, wine coolers and tea caddies), lacquered objects, porcelain, and especially the English red stoneware teapots and cups so much in favour at the time. Good examples are the Still-life with a Silver Candlestick (Rotterdam, Mus. Boymans–van Beuningen) and Still-life with a Theorbo (London, Buckingham Pal., Royal Col.). These breakfast pieces probably also have loosely constructed symbolic programmes, with complex meanings centred on the temptations of earthly goods. For example, wine might suggest the Eucharist, but it also connoted pleasurable indulgence and even drunkenness. Consequently the viewer was invited to contemplate the relative merit of spiritual and worldly values, an activity pertinent to Calvinist-dominated Dutch mercantile society.


Object details
Category
Object type
Materials and techniques
Oil on canvas
Brief description
Oil painting entitled 'Still Life with Fruit and Silver', painted by a member of the circle of Pieter van Roestraten. Dutch School, ca. 1675-1700.
Physical description
A marble table laid with a tall wine glass, silver vessels, red and white grapes, a melon and a straw-covered wine bottle
Dimensions
  • Approx. height: 61.5cm
  • Approx. width: 74cm
Dimensions taken from Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800, C.M. Kauffmann, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1973
Styles
Object history
Purchased from Montpelier Galleries, 3 Jan. 1963, lot 83.



Historical significance: This painting has been attributed, based on photographs only, to the circle of Pieter van Roestraten (1629/30-1700) by Dr. Fred Meijer (verbal communication) in February 2010. Indeed, the harmony of the colours and almost monochrome appearance of this work recalls the banketjes or banquet scenes painted by Haarlem painters such as van Roestraten from the mid 1600s onward in which strong local colours were replaced by an overall hue of greenish grey, submerging the objects into an aura that encompassed each one of them. Roestraten was a Dutch painter who apprenticed to Frans Hals in Haarlem until 1651 and married his daughter in 1654. Sometime between 1663 and 1665 he went to London where he specialized in rich and decorative flower paintings and still-lifes, strongly influenced by the luxurious pronk stilleven style of the Amsterdam painter Willem Kalf. Roestraten was renowned for his skilful depiction of silver (candlesticks, porringers, wine coolers and tea caddies), lacquered objects, porcelain, and especially the English red stoneware teapots and cups so much in favour at the time. Good examples are the Still-life with a Silver Candlestick (Rotterdam, Mus. Boymans–van Beuningen) and Still-life with a Theorbo (London, Buckingham Pal., Royal Col.). These breakfast pieces probably also have loosely constructed symbolic programmes, with complex meanings centred on the temptations of earthly goods. For example, wine might suggest the Eucharist, but it also connoted pleasurable indulgence and even drunkenness. Consequently the viewer was invited to contemplate the relative merit of spiritual and worldly values, an activity pertinent to Calvinist-dominated Dutch mercantile society.
Historical context
The term 'Still life' conventionally refers to works depicting an arrangement of diverse inanimate objects including fruits, flowers, shellfish, vessels and artefacts. The term derives from the Dutch 'stilleven', which became current from about 1650 as a collective name for this type of subject matter. Still-life reached the height of its popularity in Western Europe, especially in the Netherlands, during the 17th century although still-life subjects already existed in pre-Classical, times. As a genre, this style originates in the early 15th century in Flanders with Hugo van der Goes (ca.1440-1482), Hans Memling (ca.1435-1494) and Gerard David (ca.1460-1523) who included refined still-life details charged with symbolic meaning in their compositions in the same manner as illuminators from Ghent or Bruges did in their works for decorative purpose. In the Low Countries, the first types of still life to emerge were flower paintings and banquet tables by artists like Floris van Schooten (c.1585-after 1655). Soon, different traditions of still life with food items developed in Flanders and in the Netherlands where they became especially popular commodities in the new bourgeois art market. Dutch painters played a major role the development of this genre, inventing distinctive variations on the theme over the course of the century while Flemish artist Frans Snyders' established a taste for banquet pieces. These works were developed further in Antwerp by the Dutchman Jan Davidsz. de Heem (1606-1684) who created opulent baroque confections of fruit, flowers, and precious vessels that became a standardized decorative type throughout Europe. Scholarly opinion had long been divided over how all of these images should be understood. The exotic fruits and valuable objects often depicted testify to the prosperous increase in wealth in cities such as Amsterdam and Haarlem but may also function as memento mori, or vanitas, that is, reminders of human mortality and invitations to meditate upon the passage of time.
Subjects depicted
Summary
The harmony of the colours and almost monochrome appearance of this work recalls the banketjes or banquet scenes painted by Haarlem painters such as Pieter van Roestraten from the mid 1600s onward in which strong local colours were replaced by an overall hue of greenish grey, submerging the objects into an aura that encompassed each one of them. Roestraten was a Dutch painter who apprenticed to Frans Hals in Haarlem until 1651 and married his daughter in 1654. Sometime between 1663 and 1665 he went to London where he specialized in rich and decorative flower paintings and still-lifes, strongly influenced by the luxurious pronk stilleven style of the Amsterdam painter Willem Kalf. Roestraten artist was renowned for his skilful depiction of silver (candlesticks, porringers, wine coolers and tea caddies), lacquered objects, porcelain, and especially the English red stoneware teapots and cups so much in favour at the time. Good examples are the Still-life with a Silver Candlestick (Rotterdam, Mus. Boymans–van Beuningen) and Still-life with a Theorbo (London, Buckingham Pal., Royal Col.). These breakfast pieces probably also have loosely constructed symbolic programmes, with complex meanings centred on the temptations of earthly goods. For example, wine might suggest the Eucharist, but it also connoted pleasurable indulgence and even drunkenness. Consequently the viewer was invited to contemplate the relative merit of spiritual and worldly values, an activity pertinent to Calvinist-dominated Dutch mercantile society.
Bibliographic reference
Kauffmann, C.M., Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800, London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, p. 96, cat. no. 103
Collection
Accession number
P.1-1963

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Record createdMarch 6, 2007
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