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Osias Beert I (Antwerp c. 1570-1624)
PROPERTY FROM A EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTION 
Osias Beert I (Antwerp c. 1570-1624)

Oysters on a pewter plate, sweetmeats and biscuits in a silver tazza, two façon-de-venise wine glasses and an orange in a niche

Details
Osias Beert I (Antwerp c. 1570-1624)
Oysters on a pewter plate, sweetmeats and biscuits in a silver tazza, two façon-de-venise wine glasses and an orange in a niche
oil on copper, stamped twice on the reverse with the maker's mark of Pieter Stas (active in Antwerp c. 1587-1610) and with the Antwerp hand
19 5/8 x 14¾ in. (49.7 x 37.5 cm.)
Provenance
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, Monaco, 29-30 November 1986, lot 327 (340,000 French Francs).
with Galerie de Jonckheere, Paris, where acquired by the family of the present owner.
Literature
J. Wudum, 'Antwerp copper plates', Phoenix Art Museum, ed., Copper as Canvas: Two centuries of masterpiece paintings on copper, 1575-1775, exhibition catalogue, 1999, pp. 109-10.

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Alexis Ashot
Alexis Ashot

Lot Essay

One of the pioneers of early still-life painting in Antwerp, Osias Beert specialised in this genre at a time when the production of such works was almost entirely anonymous. Today, fewer than a dozen signed or monogrammed works by the artist are known, and the number of fully attributable works by Beert is probably no more than fifty. Although very few details are known about Beert's life, his importance as one of the most influential artists of the earliest generation of still-life painters in Flanders has always been readily acknowledged. He seems to have spent his whole life in Antwerp, where he became a master of the painter's Guild of Saint Luke in 1602, and where he is also recorded as being a cork merchant and a member of the Chamber of Rhetoric, suggesting an involvement in intellectual pursuits that went beyond painting. It is a measure of his reputation that he had a large number of pupils, amongst them his nephew, Frans Ykens. His influence can also be found in the work of other artists, such as Jacop van Es and Jacob van Hulsdonck.

His works are characterised by balanced compositions of dense groupings, a quasi-geometric style and a heightened attention to detail - all seen in this picture. The guiding principle here is objectivity, with a strong sense of plasticity and an even and diffused light. The carefully selected and arranged objects in the composition - a silver tazza with sweets, an orange, a pewter plate with oysters and two wine glasses - have been given equal importance in the composition. The objects have been arranged in tiered rows from the background to the foreground and they occupy practically the entire surface of the painting. No one item has been subordinated to another. In this work, harmony emanates not from a complex placement of the items but from the general tonality. To achieve a more complete representation of each object Beert adopts a plunging perspective, which allows him to show each item simultaneously from the front and from above. Details such as the exquisite silver tazza and intricate glass detailing, the viscosity of the oysters contrasting with the smooth surface of the orange, reveals the careful observation and study that each individual object has received.

Whilst on few occasions Beert signed his works, he never dated them. However, this painting can be dated through the maker's mark on the reverse of the copper plate. Pieter Stas began to mark his plates with the present mark in 1602 and subsequently changed it in 1606, which would suggest the date of the present work to be between these years.

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