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Oil painting - Teapot, Ginger Jar and Slave Candlestick
  • Teapot, Ginger Jar and Slave Candlestick
    Roestraten, Pieter van, born 1629 - died 1700
  • Enlarge image

Teapot, Ginger Jar and Slave Candlestick

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    London (painted)

  • Date:

    ca. 1695 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Roestraten, Pieter van, born 1629 - died 1700 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    oil on canvas, with a contemporary English giltwood frame

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Lionel A. Crichton

  • Museum number:

    P.2-1939

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 54, case 1

Object Type
Such still-life paintings in the Dutch manner were new in Britain, but they became very popular. The Dutch-trained artists who settled in London found a ready market for their paintings with luxury objects shown in this realistic way. The Dutch called these studies pronkstilleven, that is, 'showy' still life, from the word pronken meaning 'to show off'.

Subject Depicted
This painting shows an English or Dutch silver vase of around 1650-1680, an English silver-gilt candlestick with a base in the form of a kneeling slave of around 1690-1700, a lacquer tea caddy, a Chinese blue-and-white teapot and stand, and a silver-gilt teaspoon, of about 1690. These images celebrated the splendid work of European silversmiths and the fashionable and expensive goods imported from China.

People
This painting is in the style of Pieter van Roestraten (born around 1630, died 1700), who was born in Haarlem in The Netherlands. He was the pupil and son-in law of the portrait painter Frans Hals (born around 1581-1585, died 1666). He spent his last years in London, where he specialised in still-life studies of food and drink, and the vessels, plates, candlesticks and other valuable items that went with them. Van Roestraten made a series of paintings representing, among other things, English and German silver cups and dishes, which were eagerly collected in Britain.

Physical description

A still life with a silver covered vase and 'slave' candlestick, earthenware ginger pot, porcelain tea-pot and sugar pot with cane sugar

Place of Origin

London (painted)

Date

ca. 1695 (painted)

Artist/maker

Roestraten, Pieter van, born 1629 - died 1700 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

oil on canvas, with a contemporary English giltwood frame

Dimensions

Height: 68.6 cm excluding frame, Width: 54.5 cm

Object history note

Bequeathed by Lionel A. Crichton, 1939
This painting has been attributed, based on photographs only, to Pieter van Roestraten by Dr. Fred Meijer (verbal communication) in February 2010. Kauffmann catalogued it as 'Follower of Pieter Roestraten' in 1973. The object file contains a note from Dr. J. M. Noothoven van Goor of Arnhem who suggested an attribution to Roestraten in July, 1956. Another note reveals that Dr. W. Katch suggested that the work was 'style of' or 'follower of' Roestraten in 1965.

Historical significance: Pieter (Gerritsz.) van Roestraten, (1629/30-1700) was a Dutch painter, apprenticed to Frans Hals in Haarlem until 1651 and married to his daughter from 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 skillful 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.). The more unusual vertical format of this work is emphasised by the tall English candlestick dating to ca. 1690-1700. The silver covered vase may be Dutch or English and dates to about 1650-80 while the gilt silver teaspoon in the foreground dates to about 1690. The kandisuiker or cane sugar reappears in many of Roestraten's works and was a particularly valuable commodity imported by the Dutch East and West India Companies at the time. Similarly, porcelain tea-pots or small pots with sugar candy and preserved ginger were exotic goods shipped from Asia and Brazil. An increasing European knowledge of Chinese culture and philosophy led to an interest in chinoiseries and images of philosophers in a landscape such as that represented on the tea-pot in P.2-1939 were particularly popular. The 'slave' represented on the candlestick alludes to the realities of slave labour on Dutch plantations in the New World.

Historical context note

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.

Descriptive line

Oil painting, 'Teapot, Ginger Jar and Slave Candlestick', circle of Pieter van Roestraten, ca. 1695

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

Kauffmann, C.M. Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, pp. 241-243, cat. no. 301.
The following is an excerpt from a chapter entitled 'Still Life in Bond Street' by Tessa Murdoch, in a publication entitled 'This Blessed Plot, This Earth: English Pottery Studies in Honour of Jonathon Thorne', edited by Amanda Dunsmore:

"In 1939, the Victoria & Albert Museum acquired six still life paintings from the bequest of the well-known Bond Street silver dealer Lionel A. Critchon. The paintings had been brought to the museum's attention in the early 1920s as of 'considerable interest' in showing silver use".

Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Engraving, Illustration and Design & Department of Paintings, Accessions 1939, published under the Authority of the Ministry of Education, London, 1950

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Still life paintings were new in Britain. Previously portraits had been the most common form of painting. This still life shows Chinese porcelain with metal mounts, used for serving tea, and showy silver. Paintings with luxury objects shown in this realistic way were so popular that some Dutch-trained artists, who specialised in still-life, settled in London where they found numerous buyers for their work. [27/03/2003]

Production Note

This painting has been attributed, based on photographs only, to the circle of Pieter van Roestraten by Dr. Fred Meijer (verbal communication) in February 2010. Kauffmann catalogued it as 'Follower of Pieter Roestraten' in 1973. The object file contains a note from Dr. J. M. Noothoven van Goor of Arnhem who suggested an attribution to Roestraten in July, 1956. Another note reveals that Dr. W. Katch suggested that the work was 'style of' or 'follower of' Roestraten in 1965.

Materials

Oil paint; Canvas

Techniques

Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Sugar bowls; Still life; Sugar; Jars; Teapots; Candlesticks

Categories

Paintings; Silver; Ceramics

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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