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    Sale 1986

    Important Old Master Paintings Part I And Part II

    15 April 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 8

    Follower of Georg Flegel

    A façon de venise, a bowl of strawberries, a blue tit, a pomegranate, cherries, other fruits and walnuts on a table

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    Follower of Georg Flegel
    A façon de venise, a bowl of strawberries, a blue tit, a pomegranate, cherries, other fruits and walnuts on a table
    with signature and date 'De Heem 1672' (lower right)
    oil on panel
    10 5/8 x 7¼ in. 27 x 18.4 cm.


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    This anonymous artist's precise and descriptive drawing of the still life elements reflects an early seventeenth century interest in scientific observation and classification; indeed, Flegel himself produced numerous intricate watercolor studies of flowers and insects. Each of the elements in the present still life would have held a particular religious symbolism for the contemporary viewer: cherries were associated with heavenly food, Spring, and the Incarnation of Christ; a pomegranate symbolized the Resurrection; and the split walnut was explained by Augustine - the green outer case represented the flesh of Christ, the shell the wood of the Cross, and the kernel His divine nature. The glass of wine was a symbol of the Eucharist, while the small bird perched on the dish of strawberries signified the human soul. Birds appear frequently in Christian religious symbolism; the blue tit in the present still life can be seen in nearly identical form in a number of compositions by Flegel, including his Still life (Metropolitan Museum, New York) and still life with a bird (Kunsthandel Klaus Edel, Koln).

    Dr. Ingvar Bergström studied the present still life in the original, and pronounced it 'an important work by Georg Flegel, throughout displaying his master hand'. Dr. Bergström also observed that the false De Heem signature in the lower right corner appears to begin with Flegel's genuine monogram (written communication, 10 June 1985). It was also accepted by Prof. Wolfgang Müller, who saw the painting in 1986 and concurred with Dr. Bergström about the false signature. He noted that certain elements, such as the reflection of the strawberries in the glass, appear in other works by Flegel himself (written communication, 26 March 1986).