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Balthasar van der Ast (Middelburg c. 1593/4-1657 Delft)
PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT FAMILY COLLECTION (LOTS 26 & 33)
Balthasar van der Ast (Middelburg c. 1593/4-1657 Delft)

A tulip, a carnation, spray of forget-me-nots, with a shell, a lizard and a grasshopper, on a ledge, a dragonfly in flight

Details
Balthasar van der Ast (Middelburg c. 1593/4-1657 Delft)
A tulip, a carnation, spray of forget-me-nots, with a shell, a lizard and a grasshopper, on a ledge, a dragonfly in flight
signed '•B• vander• Ast•••' (lower right)
oil on panel
7 x 14 in. (17.8 x 35.6 cm.)

Provenance
A.W.M. Mensing; Sotheby’s, London, 8 February 1951, lot 74.
with The Arcade Gallery, London, 1953.
with Eugene Slatter, London, 1956, from whom acquired by the grandfather of the present owners.
Literature
L.J. Bol, The Bosschaert Dynasty, Leigh-on-Sea, 1960, p. 76, no. 50.

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Lot Essay

This delicate rendering of flowers and insects on a stone ledge underlines both van der Ast’s debt to his brother-in-law and master, Ambrosius Bosschaert I, and his own distinct contributions to the genre of still life painting. The precision with which the different elements are executed, for example the careful delineation of the individual petals of the carnation, and the application of paint layers to create both polished and slightly hazy effects, is very close to the work of Bosschaert; however, the arrangement of these objects as individual specimens across the ledge is a notable departure, since Bosschaet’s compositions, whether vertical or horizontal, are anchored by a central vase or basket. These more distilled works by van der Ast anticipate the paintings of Jan van Kessel and Adriaen Coorte. The lizard and insects now enjoy equal prominence to the flowers, and the heightened realism with which they are depicted may suggest the influence of Roelandt Savery. Another novel element is van der Ast’s incorporation of shells, here placed prominently in the central foreground, reflecting the growing fashion in 17th-century Holland for collecting exotica.

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