Dordrecht artist Bartholomeus Assteyn spent his career painting still lifes in the tradition of the Middelberg school. Early works such as Vase of flowers with a lizard, signed and dated 1632, reveal the clear influence of paintings by the Bosschaert family and Balthasar van der Ast. The elements that make up this composition, from the tulips and the pink rose to the lizard and flies, appear in many of his paintings and, like the Middelberg painters, he used them in various combinations throughout his career. The rounded form and smooth surface of the pear is particularly reminiscent of Van der Ast but the almost abstracted pattern of the stripes on the tulips and stems in the vase are uniquely Assteyn's. This painting is one of twenty-two known dated works; his later paintings reveal the influence of Jan Davidsz. and Cornelis de Heem.
Vase of flowers with a lizard appears to be the left side of a larger work that originally included a vase of flowers on the left and a bowl of fruit on the right (Guy Stein, Paris, 1937; J. Vuyck, Paris; private collection, London; RKD no. 17601). It was made into two separate paintings at some point before June 1977, when the right-hand side of the painting, reduced at top and bottom, appeared at auction (Christie's, New York, 15 June 1977, lot 88). The reduced right-hand side of the painting appeared on the art market again in 2004 (Sotheby's, Paris, 16 Dec 2004, lot 47; RKD no. 65959).
We are grateful to Fred Meijer of the RKD for his help in cataloguing this lot.