Jan Davidsz. de Heem
(Utrecht 1606–1684 Antwerp)

A Banquet Still Life

oil on canvas
139.2 x 115.1 cm (54.8 x 45.3 in.)
mid 1660s

‘[P]rofuse naturalistic detail loaded these works with a visual excess meant to appeal to spectators informed by new methods of natural inquiry, keenly attuned to technical craftsmanship, and inclined to the thrall of visualizing economic affluence. As a representational mode, the naturalism manifested in pronkstilleven was itself a luxury commodity invested with a social capital that exceeded even the value of the painter’s skill, materials, and labour.’

Miya Tokumitsu, “The Currencies of Naturalism in Dutch Pronk Still-Life Painting: Luxury, Craft, Envisioned Affluence,” in Canadian Art Review, 2016, Vol. 41, No. 2, The Nature of Naturalism: A Trans-Historical Examination, p. 30.

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Artwork details

Jan Davidsz. de Heem was born in Utrecht in 1606 to a Catholic family.1 In 1625, the family moved to Leiden, where de Heem married his first wife Aletta van Weede. The couple moved to Antwerp in 1635, where de Heem joined the Guild of Saint Luke.2 After Aletta’s death, de Heem remarried the Antwerp native Anna Ruckers. De Heem divided his time between Antwerp and the Northern Netherlands, living in Utrecht between 1667–1672, where he opened a workshop with collaborators and pupils, such as Abraham Mignon (1640–1679).3

The few works known from this early Utrecht period are reminiscent of the tonal pieces by Balthasar van der Ast (1593/1594–1657), who may have been his teacher.4 While active in Leiden, his work changed in style and subject, focussing on monochromatic vanitas still lifes inspired by his fellow townsmen Jan Lievens (1607–1674) and David Bailly (1584–1657).5 As a result of de Heem’s move to Antwerp, his style shifted towards the Southern-Netherlandish still life tradition of exuberant banquets and flower garlands, represented by Frans Snyders (1579–1657) and Daniel Seghers (1590–1660) respectively. The highly ornate pieces that de Heem made from this period onwards, such as this later example, are what he is most famous for.6 De Heem became the most celebrated still-life painter of his day and his success meant that he could hardly keep up with the demand for his work.7 When De Heem moved back to Utrecht in the mid-1660s, his painting technique became more polished with a greater affinity for detail, of which the current painting is one of his most prime examples. In this opulent piece, de Heem flaunts his technical virtuosity on a grand scale, elaborately depicting a contrasting play of textures, surfaces and colours. After the French invaded Utrecht in 1672, de Heem returned to Antwerp where he would stay until his death in 1684.8

Notes
1. Sam Segal, “Heem, de family,” Grove Art Online, modified 18 January 2006, accessed on 18 November 2021 from, https://www-oxfordartonline-com.lonlib.idm.oclc.org/groveart/view/10.1093/gao/9781884446054.001.0001/oao-9781884446054-e-7000037157?rskey=JDx21Z
2. Arthur K. Wheelock Jr., “Jan Davidsz de Heem,” NGA Online Editions, accessed 18 November 2021, https://purl.org/nga/collection/constituent/1383.
3. Segal, “Heem, de family.”
4. Wheelock Jr., “Jan Davidsz de Heem.”
5. Ruth Seidler, “A Still Life by Joris van Son,” The Journal of the Walters Art Gallery, 1989, vol. 47 (1989), 94
6. Segal, “Heem, de family.”
7. “Heem, Jan Davidsz. de,” Benezit Dictionary of Artists, Vol. 6, (Gründ: 2006), 1305.
8. Wheelock Jr., “jan Davidsz de Heem.”

Possibly Clemens August of Bavaria (1700–1761), Archbishop Elector of Cologne, Bishop of Paderborn, Hildesheim and Osnabrück, before at least 1761;
his sale (†), Bonn, 22 May 1764 (=8th day), lot 67, ‘Un grand Tableau à Fruits de quatre pieds six pouces de hauteur & trois pieds neuf pouces de largeur, peint par Jean de Heen’ (54 x 45 in.) (54.30 Rt to the following),
Simon Mordechai Baruch (1716–1802), Bad Mergentheim and Bonn.
Anonymous sale; Christian Benjamin Rauschner, Frankfurt, 1765, lot 250, ‘Auf Leinwand, Hoch 4 Schuh 6 Zoll, breit 3 Schuh 9 Zoll, Ein Stück mit Früchten. Auf Tuch gemahlt. C’est un tableau avec des fruits. Peint sur de la toile’ (54 x 45 in.).
Charles Searle Hayne (1833–1903), his sale (†);
London, Christie’s, London, 16 April 1904, lot 105 (600 gns. to Schaeffer).
Henri James Simon (1851–1932), Berlin, by 1906.
Mrs. U.M. Kneppelhout-Van Braam, Oosterbeek / Mr. Egbert de Langen, Amsterdam / Mr. Count Bottaro Costa, The Hague; Frederik Muller & Cie., Amsterdam, 16 December 1919, lot 29 (8,500 guilders).
Anonymous sale; Frederik Muller & Cie., Amsterdam, 12 April 1921, lot 4a (acquired by Jonas Alexander van Bever, Amsterdam, on behalf of the following);
Jacob Lierens (1877–1949), his sale; Frederik Muller & Cie., Amsterdam, 14 October 1941 (=1st day), lot 311 (NLG 34,000);
Acquired for the ‘Sonderauftrag Linz’ via Hans Posse, 22 October 1941 (for FL. 37,700.- or 30,000 RM) (Linz No. 2044).
Recovered by the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Section, transferred to the Munich Central Collecting Point (MCCP No. 4973), 19 July 1945.
Transferred to Amsterdam from the above, 8 July 1946.
Stichting Nederlands Kunstbezit, The Netherlands, 1946, inv. no. 1010, and placed under the custody of the following;
Dienst voor’s Rijks Verspreide Kunstvoorwerpen, Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed, inv. no. NK 2711;
On long-term loan from the above to the Centraal Museum, Utrecht, 1948-2019, inv. no. 10231;
Restituted to the heirs of Jacob Lierens, 2019;
The Heirs of Jacob van Lierens; Christie’s, London, 8 July 2021, lot 21;
The Klesch Collection.

Berlin, Kaiser Friedrich Museum, ‘Ausstellung von Werken alter Kunst aus dem Privatbesitz der Mitglieder des Kaiser Friedrich-Museums-Verein’, 1906, no. 57.
Delft, Museum Het Prinsenhof, ‘Wintertentoonstelling. Van intimiteit tot theater’, 1951–2, no. 30.
Utrecht, Jaarbeurs, ‘Musement’, 19 June–13 July 1969.
Leiden, Museum De Lakenhal; Groninger Museum, ‘Een stuckie stillegend goet’, 1985–6, no. VI-27.
Delft, Stedelijk Museum Het Prinsenhof; Fort Worth, Kimbell Art Museum; Cambridge, Harvard University, ‘A Prosperous Past, The Sumptuous Still Life in the Netherlands 1600-1700’, 1988–9, no. 38.
Utrecht, Centraal Museum; Braunschweig, Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, ‘Jan Davidsz de Heem en zijn kring’, 16 February–7 July 1991, no. 8.
Madrid, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya, ‘La pintura holandesa del siglo de ora: la escuela de Utrecht’, October 1992–February 1993, no. 33.
Boston, Museum of Fine Arts; Toledo, The Toledo Museum of Art, ‘The Age of Rubens’, 22 September 1993–24 April 1994, no. 112.
Nagasaki, Huis ten Bosch, ‘Masters of Utrecht: 17-19th century paintings from the collection of Centraal Museum Utrecht’, 1994–5, no. 20.
Stockholm, Nationalmuseum; Helsinki, Sinebrychoff Art Museum,’ Törnrosmadonnan. Och andra mästerverk från Utrecht’, 1997, no. 15.
Santiago, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, ‘Dutch Masters from the Golden Age’, 1997–8, no. 22.
Sao Paulo, Pinacoteca do Estado, ‘Mestres do Século de Ouro na Pintura Holandesa’, 1998, no. 22.
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum; Essen, Kulturstiftung Ruhr Essen, ‘Das flämische Stilleben 1550-1680 : eine Ausstellung des Kunsthistorische Museums Wien und der Kulturstiftung Ruhr Essen’, 1 September–21 July 2002, no. 90.
Luxembourg, Villa Vauban, ‘The Five Senses in Painting’, 19 March–26 June 2016.
Los Angeles, The J. Paul Getty Museum, long-term loan, 23 February 2022 – 4 February 2024.

R. van Lutterveld, Kunst van Nederland. Schilders van het Stilleven, Naarden, 1947, pp. 23, 46 and 50, fig. 23.
C.H. de Jonge, Centraal Museum – Utrecht. Catalogus der schilderijen, Utrecht, 1952, pp. 56–7, no. 137 (with inaccurate provenance).
E. Greindl, Les peintres flamands de nature morte au XVIIe siècle, Brussels, 1956, pp. 103, 171 and 174 (listed twice most likely because the author didn’t realise it was the same painting).
A.P. de Mirimonde, “Joris et Jan van Son dans les Musées de province”, in La Revue des Arts, X, 1960, p. 11, n.17.
P. Gammelbo, “La natura morta Olandese nel seicento”, in Antichità Viva 6, 1963, fig. 7.
J. Foucart, Musées de Hollande, la peinture néerlandaise, Paris, 1965, section 33.
G. Bott, “Stilleben des 17. Jahrhunderts. Jacob Marrell”, in Kunst in Hessen und am Mittelrhein, VI, 1966, p. 110, under no. 26.
M.E. Houtzager, et. al., Röntgenonderzoek van de oude schilderijen in het Centraal Museum te Utrecht, Utrecht, 1967, pp. 238–9.
A.P. de Mirimonde, “Musique et symbolisme chez Jan Davidsz. de Heem, Cornelis Janszoon en Jan II Janszoon de Heem”, in Jaarboek van het Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen, 1970, pp. 280–2, fig. 38 (confusing this painting and its copy).
L. Grisebach, Willem Kalf 1619-1693, Berlin, 1974, p. 125, n. 285.
R.D. Leppert, The Theme of Music in Flemish Paintings of the Seventeenth Century, II, Munich and Salzburg, 1977, p. 64, no. 270.
F.W. Robinson, W.H. Wilson, L. Silver, Catalogue of the Flemish and Dutch Paintings 1400-1900, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota FL, 1980, under no. 84 (entry by F.W. Robinson).
E. Greindl, Les peintres flamands de nature morte au XVIIe siècle, Sterrebeek, 1983 (2nd ed.), pp. 124, 249, figs. 130, 360 (no. 26) and 362 (no. 131).
O. ter Kuile, Rijksdienst Beeldende Kunst. The Netherlands Office for Fine Arts The Hague. Catalogue of Paintings by Artists Born before 1870. Volume VI. Seventeenth-century North Netherlandish Still Lifes, The Hague, 1985, p. 50, fig. 33, pp. 51, 116–7 (no. VI-27), 204 and 206.
F.G. Meijer, “Book review of O. ter Kuile, Rijksdienst Beeldende Kunst. The Netherlands Office for Fine Arts The Hague. Catalogue of Paintings by Artists Born before 1870. Volume VI. Seventeenth-Century North Netherlandish Still Lifes”, in Oud Holland, vol. 100, no. 3/4, 1986, pp. 204–205.
I. Ember, et. al., Niederländische malerei des 17. Jahrhunderts aus Budapest, exh. cat., Cologne and Utrecht, Wallraf-Richartz Museum and Centraal Museum, 1987, p. 41, fig. 8 (entry by J. de Meyere).
S. Segal, A Prosperous Past: The Sumptuous Still Life in The Netherlands 1600-1700, ex. cat., ed. W. B. Jordan, The Hague, 1988, no. 38 p. 143, p. 148–149, p. 241.
H. Robels, Frans Snyders. Stilleben- und Tiermaler 1579-1657, Munich, 1989, p. 164.
P. Huys Janssen, “Schilders in Utrecht 1600-1700”, in Historische Reeks Utrecht, XV, Utrecht, 1990, pp. 82–3, fig. 72.
F.G. Meijer, “Book review of Exh. cat. A Prosperous Past. The Sumptuous Still Life in the Netherlands 1600-1700”, in Simiolus, XX, no. 1, 1990–1, p. 96.
S. Segal, Jan Davidsz De Heem and his circle, exh. cat., Utrecht, Centraal Museum and Brunswick, Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, 1991, pp. 18, 38, 77, 139–41, and addendum p. 2, no. 8 (German edition, no. 7A).
I. Schwartz, ‘”Niet hoe veel maer hoe eel” Symboliek en signaturen van Jan Davidszoon de Heem’, in Vitrine, 1991, pp. 13–15. illustrated in colour p. 15.
E. de Heer, F. Kuyvenhoven and E. Mijnlieff, Rijksdienst Beeldende Kunst. The Netherlands Office for Fine Arts The Hague. Old Master Paintings. An Illustrated Summary Catalogue, The Hague, 1992, p. 134, no. 1085.
G.J.M. Weber, “Ausstellungen. Stilleben im goldenen Jahrhundert – Jan Davidsz de Heem und sein Kreis”, in Kunstchronik, XLV, no. 4, April 1992, pp. 149 and 161.
R. Trnek, Die holländischen Gemälde des 17. Jahrhunderts in der Gemäldegalerie der Akademie der bildenden Künste in Wien, Vienna, Cologne and Weimar, 1992, p. 176.
P. Sutton and M.E. Wieseman, The Age of Rubens, exh. cat., Boston, 1993, no. 112, pp. 541–3, illustrated (entry by M.E. Wieseman).
M.-L. Hairs, “Jan Davidsz. de Heem”, in Le dictionnaire des peintres belges du XIVe siècle à nos jours : depuis les premiers maîtres des anciens Pays-Bas méridionaux et de la Principauté de Liège jusqu’aux artistes contemporains, Ph. Roberts-Jones, ed., Brussels, 1995, p. 284. illustrated in black and white.
P. Taylor, Dutch Flower Painting 1600-1720, New Haven, 1995, p. 95, pl. 56, p. 213 under note 55.
S. Segal, “Heem, de. Dutch family of painters”, in The Dictionary of Art, XIV, J. Turner, ed., London, 1996, pp. 288–291.
L.M. Helmus, De verzamelingen van het Centraal Museum Utrecht. 5. Schilderkunst tot 1850, Utrecht, 1999, I, pp. 301–3; II, pp. 929–30.
K. Sidén, ed., Musiken I Konsten. Det klingande 1600-talet. Nationalmusei Årsbok, XLVII, Stockholm, 2001, no. 140–1.
M. Díaz Padrón, et. al., Triumph of the sea: the riches of marine life in XVII-century European painting, Madrid, 2003, pp. 152–3.
F.G. Meijer, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Catalogue of the Collection of Paintings. The Collection of Dutch and Flemish Still-Life Paintings Bequeathed by Daisy Linda Ward, Oxford and Zwolle, 2003, pp. 253–4, fig. 58.3.
J. de Meyere, Utrechtse schilderkunst in de Gouden Eeuw : honderd schilderijen uit de collectie van het Centraal Museum te Utrecht, Utrecht, 2006, pp. 213–5, no. 49.
F.G. Meijer, “Jan Davidsz. de Heem’s Landscapes”, in Liber Amicorum Marijke de Kinkelder. Collegiale bijdragen over landschappen, marines en architectuur, The Hague, 2013, p. 258, p. 263, appendix y., p. 268, image detail y.
F.G. Meijer, ‘Jan Davidsz. de Heem 1606-1684’, PhD dissertation, University of Amsterdam, 2016, I, pp. 216–7, 219–20, no. A 199, illustrated; II, pp. 222–224, no. A 199.

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Hover to zoom to maximum level or click to enlarge

Jan Davidsz. de Heem
(Utrecht 1606–1684 Antwerp)

A Banquet Still Life

oil on canvas
139.2 x 115.1 cm (54.8 x 45.3 in.)
mid 1660s

Currently on view: Los Angeles, The J. Paul Getty Museum.

‘[P]rofuse naturalistic detail loaded these works with a visual excess meant to appeal to spectators informed by new methods of natural inquiry, keenly attuned to technical craftsmanship, and inclined to the thrall of visualizing economic affluence. As a representational mode, the naturalism manifested in pronkstilleven was itself a luxury commodity invested with a social capital that exceeded even the value of the painter’s skill, materials, and labour.’

Miya Tokumitsu, “The Currencies of Naturalism in Dutch Pronk Still-Life Painting: Luxury, Craft, Envisioned Affluence,” in Canadian Art Review, 2016, Vol. 41, No. 2, The Nature of Naturalism: A Trans-Historical Examination, p. 30.

Artwork details

Learn more about this artwork

Interview with Dr. Anne Woollett

We spoke with Dr. Anne Woollett, curator at the J. Paul Getty Museum, about Jan Davidsz. de Heem’s A Banquet Still Life.