Antwerp 1625–circa 1669 Amsterdam
Still Life with fruit and Delft plate

Oil on canvas
Image size: 21 1/4 x 24 1/2 inches (54 x 62 cm)
18th Century carved gilt frame

Provenance
Irish Country Estate

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This complex and convincing composition is painted from a frontal perspective. In the lower half is a wooden shelf or table on which several elements are skilfully arranged. On the right is a Delft plate, the handling of the gilt edge is pure genuis, the light hits the edge and we see the undulations on the rim of the plate on which two masterfully painted peaches and two pears rest. A tone of elegant refinement is set by these motifs, which appealed to the taste of the artists socially distinguished and cultivated clients.

The light helps to emphasise the varied hues of their skin, while the opacity of their surface and the tendency to emphasise volume contrasts almost theatrically with the transparent effect of the grapes beside them. The texture of their skin is achieved with the extraordinary skilful use of highlighting to suggest a glasslike translucency.

Directly above the cluster of grapes hangs a very fine, elegantly drawn tendril. Leading to the stalk and leaves, again the artist has captured the turning and patterns of the leafs brillianty.

The inclusion of beams of lights entering from the left is a tenebrist device and powerfully strikes the carefully drawn objects, illuminating some areas of the fruits and leaves from behind in order to create different planes. Part of the compelling beauty of this picture depends on its spare composition of relatively few still-life elements.

The skin on the fig is depicted with such extraordinary naturalism, you could almost take it from the painting to eat. At this period fresh fruit was a luxury found mostly on the tables of the affluent.