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Oil painting - Monkey, Parrot and Fruit

Monkey, Parrot and Fruit

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    England (probably, painted)

  • Date:

    early 18th century (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Bogdani, Jacob (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by John Jones

  • Museum number:

    602-1882

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Jacob Bogdani (often called James in English) (1658-1724) was an Hungarian painter, educated in the Felsomagyarországi Evangélikusok Kollégiuma, Eperjes and was probably trained by his father who was a painter himself. By 1688, he had moved to England where he became a successful painter and gained the English citizenship in 1700. He had many pupils among whom his own son, William (1699-1771), and his son-in-law, Tobias Stranover (1684-1756).

This painting bears some similarities with the work of Jacob Bogdani without following the painter's essential characteristics. It is also reminiscent of Flemish and Dutch still-life painters and was most likely executed in England during the early 18th century.

Physical description

A still-life with grapes, peaches, apricot, pomegranate, figs and chestnut, a monkey, a parrot and a flying swallow with a mountainous landscape in the background.

Place of Origin

England (probably, painted)

Date

early 18th century (painted)

Artist/maker

Bogdani, Jacob (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Oil on canvas

Dimensions

Height: 65 cm approx., Width: 101 cm approx.

Object history note

Bequeathed by John Jones, 1882
Ref : Parkinson, Ronald, Catalogue of British Oil Paintings 1820-1860. Victoria & Albert Museum, HMSO, London, 1990. p.xix-xx

John Jones (1800-1882) was first in business as a tailor and army clothier in London 1825, and opened a branch in Dublin 1840. Often visited Ireland, travelled to Europe and particularly France. He retired in 1850, but retained an interest in his firm. Lived quietly at 95 Piccadilly from 1865 to his death in January 1882. After the Marquess of Hertford and his son Sir Richard Wallace, Jones was the principal collector in Britain of French 18th century fine and decorative arts. Jones bequeathed an important collection of French 18th century furniture and porcelain to the V&A, and among the British watercolours and oil paintings he bequeathed to the V&A are subjects which reflect his interest in France.

See also South Kensington Museum Art Handbooks. The Jones Collection. With Portrait and Woodcuts. Published for the Committee of Council on Education by Chapman and Hall, Limited, 11, Henrietta Street. 1884.
Chapter I. Mr. John Jones. pp.1-7.
Chapter II. No.95, Piccadilly. pp.8-44. This gives a room-by-room guide to the contents of John Jones' house at No.95, Piccadilly.
Chapter VI. ..... Pictures,... and other things, p.138, "The pictures which are included in the Jones bequest are, with scarcely a single exception, valuable and good; and many of them excellent works of the artists. Mr. Jones was well pleased if he could collect enough pictures to ornament the walls of his rooms, and which would do no discredit to the extraordinary furniture and other things with which his house was filled."

Historical significance: Although this picture clearly relates to the Flemish and Dutch tradition of still-lifes, it is quite difficult to find a definitive attribution. According to Dr Fred Meijer (RKD), the monkey is reminiscent of the Antwerp painter Adriaen van Utrecht (1599-1652 while the fruits recall Alexander Coosemans' examples but the composition as a whole goes back to such artist as Jakob Bogdany who made his career in England. He specialised in still-life and bird paintings, set in park or landscape settings albeit the latter, for which he is best known today, appear to have been a late development of his oeuvre, including primarily focused on flowers and fruits still-lifes in the Dutch manner. Many public and private collections contain examples of his work, including the Royal Collection; Chatsworth House, Derbyshire; The Victoria and Albert Museum, London (see P.6-1950 and P.43-1962); the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven; Connecticut, and the Royal National Gallery of Hungary, Budapest.

These richly colourful and decorative paintings were highly regarded by their English audience and were widely emulated by many other artists, including Bogdani's own son, William (1699-1771), and his son-in-law, Tobias Stranover (1684-1756) who largely imitated his work. The present painting, which does not properly follow Bogdani's personal style, nor reach his degree of refinement, is therefore most likely the work of a contemporary follower, probably English, who was also influenced by Flemish examples.

The artist represented fruits that traditionally appear in the Flemish and Dutch still-lifes. They were usually charged with Eucharistic meanings: the pomegranate alluding to the Resurrection as well as the swallow, the apple to the Original Sin, the grapes to the Passion of Christ etc. Here the Eucharistic allusion is however weak and looks more like a distant imitation rather than an authentic work. The overall painting looks therefore like an amalgam, more likely from the first half of the 18th century.

Historical context note

Still-life reached the height of its popularity in Western Europe, especially in the Netherlands during the 17th century even though still-life subjects already existed in pre-Classical, Classical and Renaissance art. The term 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.

Descriptive line

Oil painting, 'Monkey, Parrot and Fruit', circle of Jacob Bogdani, early 18th century

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

C.M. Kauffmann, Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800, London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, p. 104, cat. no. 119.
B.S. Long, Catalogue of the Jones Collection, 1923, p. 55.

Production Note

Formerly as Anonymous Flemish school

Materials

Oil paint; Canvas

Techniques

Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Monkey; Parrot; Landscape; Swallow; Still-life; Fruit

Categories

Paintings

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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