Ottmar Elliger the Elder
- Ottmar Elliger the Elder
- Still life with Lobster, Fruit and a Nautilus Shell
- signed lower right Otmar Elliger Fecit Ano 1667
- oil on panel
Mrs. Hilma Wallin, Stockholm;
Anonymous sale ("The Property of a Gentleman"), London, Christie's, December 13, 1985, lot 86;
Acquired by the present collector in 1986.
I. Bergström, "Ottmar Elliger och Willem Kalf," Konsthistorik Tidskrift, pp. 41-45, reproduced p. 42, fig. 1;
I. Bergström, Dutch Still Life Painting in the Seventeenth Century, New York 1956, p. 287, reproduced figures 238, 289-290.
L. Grisebach, Willem Kalf 1619-1693, Berlin 1974, p. 264, under cat. no. 112, copy b.
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Despite having studied with Daniel Seghers, Elliger's most direct influence came from Willem Kalf. Indeed, many of the central elements in this composition are derived from another by Kalf, formerly in the Kaiser Friedrich-Museum (destroyed 1945). The tilted Wan-Li bowl, roemer, peeled lemon rinds and glass beaker are also included in Kalf's prototype, however in the present work Elliger revises the earlier example and sets himself apart from Kalf with the inclusion of the lobster and grapes arranged around the tilted bowl in the left half of the composition.1
Elliger's ability to provide highly detailed optical effects stands out beautifully in this extremely well preserved panel. Here, for example, the Red Admiral butterfly seems to float beside the informal still-life arrangement, thus expanding the picture plane and emphasizing the seeming randomness and spontaneity of an arranged scene. Additionally, the materiality of Elliger's work is undeniable. The grainy and studded texture of the lemon rinds are treated with thick impasto paint application and physically rise from the panel, as if taken directly from nature. This is only a slightly more complicated composition than others from the same period as Elliger maintains his affinity towards relatively simple still life compositions, arranged vertically and in a predominantly asymmetric and random pattern.
According to Ingvar Bergström, Elliger studied with Daniel Seghers in Antwerp. He is first recorded in the city in 1666, a year before the present picture was completed. In 1670 he became the court painter to the Elector of Brandenburg in Berlin. He would remain in that city until his death in 1679 at the age of forty-five.
1. I. Bergström, Dutch Still Life Painting in the Seventeenth Century, New York 1956, p. 289, fig. 237.