Jan Davidsz. de Heem (Utrecht 1606-1684 Antwerp)
Jan Davidsz. de Heem (Utrecht 1606-1684 Antwerp)

Grapes and apples in a Wan-li dish with oysters on a stone ledge

Jan Davidsz. de Heem (Utrecht 1606-1684 Antwerp)
Grapes and apples in a Wan-li dish with oysters on a stone ledge
signed and dated 'J.D.De Heem f Ao. 16**' (upper right)
oil on panel
12 3/8 x 15 5/8 in. (31.5 x 39.6 cm.)
(Probably) Anonymous sale; Zoeterwode, 19 April 1775, lot 13 (50 guilders to Neuwman).
(Possibly) J. van de Velden; his sale, Amsterdam, 3 December 1781, lot 31 (33 guilders to Yver).
Hans Ludwig Larsen, Wassenaar (1892-1937), by 1936;
Loaned by Susanne Menzel Larsen (1911-2001) to the De Lakenhal Museum, Leiden, 6 July, 1939;
Confiscated by the German authorities following the occupation of The Netherlands, after May 1940;
Sale; Van Marle and Bignell, the Hague, 25 January, 1943, lot 35;
Acquired for the Sonderauftrag Linz by Dr. Erhard Göpel (Linz no. 2772);
Recovered by the Monuments Fine Arts and Archives Section from the Salt Mines at Alt Aussee (Alt Aussee no. 2746)
and transferred to the Central Collecting Point, Munich, 12 July, 1945 (MCCP no. 4009);
Transferred to the Stichting Nederlandsch Kunstbezit, The Netherlands, 15 April, 1946 (NK 1441);
Restituted to the heirs of Hans Ludwig Larsen, 2014.
O. ter Kuile, Seventeenth-century North Netherlandish still lifes, Amsterdam and The Hague, 1985, pp. 114-115, no. VI-26.
Old master paintings. An illustrated summary catalogue. Rijksdienst Beeldende Kunst/The Netherlandish Office for the Fine Arts, Zwolle and The Hague, 1992, p. 134, no. 1084.
The Hague, Schilderijengalerij Prins Willem V, 1983-1995, on loan from the Instituut Collectie Nederland.
Delft, Stedelijk Museum Het Prinsenhof, 1995, on loan from the Instituut Collectie Nederland.

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Lot Essay

Jan Davidsz. de Heem was among the most celebrated still-life painters working in the 17th-century Netherlands. Trained in his native Utrecht, he moved to Leiden in 1625, where he created book and vanitas still lifes of the monochromatic type associated with Haarlem artists Pieter Claesz. and Willem Claesz. Heda. Several years later De Heem settled in the Hapsburg-controlled Southern Netherlands, where he enrolled in the Antwerp guild of St. Luke between September 1635 and September 1636. The brash, colorful Flemish tradition of still-life painting practiced in Antwerp by followers of Jan Breughel I and Frans Snyders appealed to De Heem. His rich color effects, delicate rendering of precious objects and abundant fruit spectacles had an extravagant Antwerp sensibility, first fully expressed in A Table of Desserts of 1640 now in the Louvre, Paris (inv. 1321). In the subsequent decade, he devised the imposing, sumptuous picture type crowded with exotic fruits and expensive glass and metalwork for which he is best known, called the "pronk" still life.

The dynamic yet harmonious composition of the present works displays De Heem's familiarity with and willingness to borrow from both Dutch and Flemish still-life traditions. Signed on oak panel, the present work depicts red, green and purple grapes, along with mulberries and peaches in a Chinese dish on a pewter plate. These objects, as well as an oyster and hazelnut, rest on a wooden table draped with a shimmering green cloth with an archway in the background. The small scale and pared down number of elements align this work with the spare simplicity found in still-life painting in the Northern Netherlands. Simultaneously, however, the bright colors and varied textures conjure the more showy still lifes of Antwerp. Minute details such as the glistening highlights on the oyster's mantle and reflection of the peach in the pewter, for instance, are meticulously observed and seamlessly combined with broader, more painterly handling of elements such as the green fabric and architectural setting that together showcase De Heem's unrivalled ability to render light and texture. In a practice common for the artist, items depicted in this picture can be found in other works by De Heem. A similar blue and white "klapmuts" bowl from the Wan-Li period (1573-1620), for example, can be found in a painting sold at Christie's, London, 23 April 1982, lot 40 (Ter Kuile, loc. cit.).

We are grateful to Fred Meijer of the RKD, The Hague, for confirming the attribution to Jan Davidsz. de Heem on the basis of photographs. Mr. Meijer will include the present picture in his forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist's works, and dates it to c. 1653/54.

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