Still Life

Pieter Claesz.
(Berchem 1597 – Haarlem 1660)

A still life with a glass roemer, bread, olives, a roast fowl on pewter plates, grapes, walnuts and apples on a porcelain plate, a salt cellar, a stoneware jug, a partly-peeled lemon

oil on panel
49.8 x 74.8 cm. (19.6 x 29.4 in.)
c. 1627

“Dutch still lifes can, then, be thought of as a society’s way of managing the unusual and exciting nature of an increasingly diverse material culture; in that sense might be called “treatises on superfluous things”.”

Elizabeth Alice Honig, “Making Sense of Things: on the Motives of Dutch Still Life”, in RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, autumn, 1998, no. 34, p. 183.

Pieter Claesz. was born in Berchem on the outskirts of Antwerp in 1597 but spent his entire career in Haarlem, where he specialised in still life painting.1 All of his works date between 1621 and 1660 and most of them are monogrammed PC. Claesz. probably did his apprenticeship in Antwerp in the circle of Osias Beert (1580-1624) and Clara Peeters (c. 1589-after 1636). The similarity in style of Peeters and Claesz., as well as their shared initials, has led to many disputed attributions. This painting, Still Life with a Glass Roemer, was executed early in his career, in the 1620s. It testifies of the Flemish influences of Beert and Peeters, evident from the cooler colours, the high contrast of the illuminated objects against a darker background and high painterly precision. It classifies as a banketje, an elaborately laid table, and features a salt-cellar. Claesz. was particularly gifted in depicting goldsmith’s work, even in his earlier work.2

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Like most Protestants, Claesz. moved from Antwerp to Haarlem, where he worked in the vicinity of Floris van Dyck (1575-1651) and the Mathams, a family of engravers. Claesz. innovated the ontbijtjes (more modest breakfast), that were already being painted there, by introducing a more realistic view, enhancing the use of perspective.3 His later works can be recognised by the striking simplicity and monochromatic colours.4 He married twice and had three children, one of whom was Nicolaes Berchem (1620-1683), a famous Italianate landscape painter.5 Claesz. died in 1660 and was buried in the Nieuwe Kerk in Haarlem.

Notes
1. The Rijksmuseum, “Pieter Claesz.,” accessed September 9, 2020, https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/rijksstudio/artists/pieter-claesz.
2. Martina Brunner-Bulst, in private correspondence, 2014.
3. Encyclopaedia Britannica, “Pieter Claesz.,” last modified 2008, accessed September 8, 2020, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Pieter-Claesz.
4. Brunner-Bulst, in private correspondence.
5. Encyclopaedia Britannica, “Pieter Claesz.”

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Anonymous sale; Paris, 16 February 1892, no. 16 (as “Clara Peeters”);
collection Paul Mantz (1821-1895), Paris;
his sale; Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 10-11 May 1895, no. 12, to Me. Chevallier;
private collection, France.
Anonymous sale; Hôtel des Ventes, Nîmes, 1 February 2014, lot 420;
with Koetser Gallery, Zürich;
The Klesch Collection.

TEFAF, Maastricht, March 2014.

New discovery, unpublished.

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