This picture is an addition to a group of about forty still lifes, all unsigned and of similar dimensions, by an as yet unidentified hand variously referred to as both 'The Master of the Lombard Fruitbowl' and 'The Pseudo-Hiepes'.
The artist was first named 'The Master of the Lombard Fruit Bowl' by Professor Luigi Salerno (La Natura Morta Italiana, 1984, pp. 18-21) after a group of still lifes, two of which had been published by Professor John Spike (in the catalogue of the exhibition Italian Still Life Paintings from the Centuries, New York, Tulsa and Dayton, 1983, nos. 3-4) as 'Anonymous Lombard, c. 1600.' Their attempts to identify the artist as Italian have not, however, gained general acceptance.
In the catalogue of the exhibition, Spanish Still Life from Velázquez to Goya, The National Gallery, London, February 22-May 21 1995, pp. 124-8 and 197-8, notes 14-31, Dr. William Jordan and Dr. Peter Cherry have persuasively argued that the painter was Spanish and probably active around the middle of the seventeenth century somewhere in the region extending from Valencia, in the South, northwards to the region of Zaragoza. In keeping with the traditional attribution to Tomás Hiepes of six paintings by this artist in a private collection, Madrid (ibid., pp. 125-6, fig. 48), they suggest the artist should be referred to as 'The Pseudo-Hiepes'.
The works thus far identified as by this hand are characterized by their conformity to roughly the same compositional formula and the repetition of selected motifs. So, for example, the basket of sweets with cherries on the branch seen in the present picture also feature in the still life sold at Christie's, New York, 29 January 1999, lot 200, as 'The Pseudo-Hiepes' ($120,000). Similarly, the distinctive foliate bordered ledge can be seen in a number of works by the artist including the pair of pictures sold at Edmund Peel, Madrid, 21 May 1991, lots 10-12, as Tomás Hiepes, and the pair offered in the Rooms, 9 July 1993, lots 52 and 53, as 'The Master of the Lombard Fruit Bowl'.