Pieter Claesz (Burgsteinfurt c. 1597-1660 Haarlem)
Pieter Claesz (Burgsteinfurt c. 1597-1660 Haarlem)

Still life with ham, lemon, a roll, a glass of wine, and others on a table

Pieter Claesz (Burgsteinfurt c. 1597-1660 Haarlem)
Still life with ham, lemon, a roll, a glass of wine, and others on a table
signed with monogram and dated 'PC 1643' (PC linked, on plate center left)
oil on panel
26 1/8 x 28 in. (66.5 x 71 cm.)
F. Lorenz, Massapequa Park, NY.
with E. and A. Silberman Galleries, New York.
J. Held et al, 17th and 18th Century Art: Baroque Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, New York, 1971, p. 229, fig. 237.
M. Brunner-Bulst, Pieter Claesz, Lingen, 2004, p. 274, no. 119, illustrated.
Northampton, Smith College Museum of Art, October, 1968, no.18.
Worcester, Worcester Art Museum, 17th Century Dutch Painting, 1979, no. 5.
On long-term loan to the Clark Art Institute, from 1979.

Lot Essay

This is an excellent, signed and dated example of Pieter Claesz's mature style. During this period, Claesz maintained the tonal palette he had developed in the late 1620s, but his compositions took on a more baroque theatricality, introduced to Antwerp by Jan Davidsz de Heem in 1635. Claesz began to compose more elaborate arrangements as well, influenced by both De Heem and Van Beyeren, in additional to the spare, sober compositions that were his usual style. The present still life is one such work, with the wide range of textures and surfaces of the immense glass roemer, silver tazza, gleaming plates, ham, lemon and roll offering the artist an opportunity to showcase his extraordinary talents.

The foods on the table were deliberately chosen by the artist for their visual properties and significance for the contemporary viewer rather than as a representation of a typical seventeenth-century Dutch meal. While the ham would likely have been found in many households, the white bread was a luxury when most families ate coarser, dark breads such as roggenbrood, made of rye. The lemon, too, was uncommon, a delicacy imported from Mediterranean climates at great expense. The roemer of wine, standard on many tables (though in this instance, magnified to enormous proportions) could perhaps refer to Christ's sacrifice or could indicate a cautionary message warning against drunkenness.

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