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Jan Jansz. van de Velde (Haarlem 1619/20-1662 Amsterdam)
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Jan Jansz. van de Velde (Haarlem 1619/20-1662 Amsterdam)

Quinces and medlars on a ledge

Details
Jan Jansz. van de Velde (Haarlem 1619/20-1662 Amsterdam)
Quinces and medlars on a ledge
signed 'J·v·velde fecit' (lower left, on the ledge)
oil on panel
15 1/8 x 12 7/8 in. (38.3 x 32.6 cm.)
Provenance
with an unidentified red wax seal bearing the initals 'JR' and a viscomital coronet (on the reverse).
Private collection, Germany.
Anonymous sale; Bolland & Marotz, Bremen, 6 December 2003, lot 498 (160,000 Euros).
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, New York, 24 January 2008, lot 56 ($481,000, when acquired by the present owner).
Special notice

VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.

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Alexis Ashot
Alexis Ashot

Lot Essay

This superbly restrained still life of quinces and medlars on a table ledge by Jan Jansz. van de Velde embodies everything for which this rare Haarlem still-life painter is best known. His was one of the most striking talents in still-life painting of the seventeenth-century, and his works have a simple and powerful beauty that would arguably be echoed a generation later by the Middelburg artist, Adriaen Coorte (?Middleburg ?1660-after 1707). Both artists set pared-down still lifes on ledges against a dark background, and both seem to have been influenced by Pieter Claesz (1597-1660 Haarlem) and Willem Heda (1594-1680), each developing an idiom that endowed everyday objects - such as fruit or vegetables - with a quiet sense of monumentality that remains utterly captivating to this day. Two ripened bright yellow quinces are placed on a wooden ledge with a small branch of slightly-furled leaves, while another branch of ripe medlar fruit forms a parallel line, and balances somewhat impossibly off the edge of the table, protruding into the viewer's space. By focusing on such a modest subject, the artist fully explores the contrasts of colour, texture and form in both types of fruit. White highlights accentuate the volume of each fruit and glisten against a stark background, in which the upper two-thirds of the panel is left daringly empty.

The only distraction in this perfectly distilled and timeless scene is the artist's own wonderfully calligraphic signature, which asserts, 'j v velde fecit'. Only forty or so paintings are known by the artist, and he remains a rather enigmatic figure, despite being a member of an artistic dynasty that included his father, Jan van de Velde, a celebrated draughtsman and printmaker who specialised in landscapes and town views, and his cousins Esaias and Anthony van de Velde.

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