Ernst Stuven was a successful Amsterdam painter of still-lives and flower pieces, whose studio included pupils such as Herman van der Mijn (see lot 28). His accomplished paintings give little indication of the artist's rather louche life. His contemporary, the artist Arnold Houbraken (1660-1790), recounts in his memoir De Grote Schouburgh der Nederlantsche konstschilders en schilderessen, how Stuven was a reprobate drinker, and mentions as an example of his depraved character how he treated another of his pupils, Willem Grasdorp, who came from Zwolle. According to Houbraken he was frequently assaulted by the artist in drunken rages and when Stuven threatened to kill Grasdorp, it was only after his unlucky apprentice escaped that the police broke into the artist's house and succeeded in arresting the painter. Stuven was then jailed for some years.