Jan Mortel was a pupil of Jan Porcellis van Delden, grandson of the marine painter, in Leiden, and became a member of the guild there in 1675. His early output was strongly influenced by the work of Jan Davidsz. de Heem and is characterised by strong colours, and dramatic lighting; later in his career, Mortel became influcenced by Abraham Mignon.
Fred Meijer points out that in circa 1707-8 Mortel actually borrowed elements directly from a picture by Mignon now in the Gemäldegalerie Dresden, for his own pictures (see F. Meijer, The Collection of Dutch and Flemish still life paintings bequeathed by Daisy Linda Ward, Zwolle, 2003, p. 259). The impact of Mignon's influence in the present compositions is also evident in the rich tonality and meticulous rendition of detail.
We are grateful to Mr. Fred Meijer of the RKD, The Hague, for confirming the attribution after inspection of the original (verbal communication, 15 March 2007).