Lot 34
  • 34

Adriaen Coorte

200,000 - 300,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Adriaen Coorte
  • Still life of an earthenware bowl of wild strawberries, a bundle of asparagus and sprigs of gooseberry and redcurrants, all on a stone ledge with a pale blue butterfly above
  • signed and dated lower centre: A . Coorte . 1689 .
  • oil on canvas, reduced at the sides and the top


Baron Robert Gendebien (1885-1954);

Thence by decent to the present owners.

Catalogue Note

Coorte's earlier works are, like this one, on canvas.  Although he continued to paint on canvas from time to time, the majority of his later works are on paper, often glued at an early date to a panel backing.  They are frequently small rectangular compositions like the present work, with objects arranged on a stone ledge.  The composition of this work however recalls the lower central part of a still life of 1685 in the Teresa Heinz collection, which is also composed of, running from left to right,  sprigs of gooseberries, a terracotta bowl of wild strawberries, a bundle of asparagus and a sprig of redcurrants.1  The Heinz composition is however an upright one, with the subject matter set in an arched stone niche with a spray of hops suspended from its apex.  The present picture, which appears to be cut at the sides and top, is thus likely to have started life as a similarly composed upright composition.  Coorte revisited this composional type later on in his career, for example in the canvas dated 1703 in the Museum voor Schone Kunsten in Antwerp.2

Coorte often painted butterflies in his still lifes, but the small blue example seen here (it is not possible to be sure which species of blue butterfly it is but it may be the Adonis Blue, a littoral species found in Zeeland)  occurs in only one other, a work on canvas dated 1687 in an English private collection.3  Although we call the fruit on the earthenware pot "wild" strawberries (Fragaria vesca), they were in Coorte's day the standard type under cultivation.  They, green asparagus, gooseberries and redcurrants are all ready for eating at the same time of year in mid-summer; unlike his contemporaries who painted fruit and flower still lifes, Coorte did not depict produce that was ripe or in bloom at different times of the year.  Middelburg, where he lived, was famous in his day for its nurseries which were planted in the rich alluvial soil on which the city rests. 

1.  See Q. Buvelot, The still lifes of Adriaen Coorte, exhibition catalogue, Zwolle 2008, pp. 32, 84-6, no. 4, reproduced in colour p. 44, fig. 33, and p. 85.
2.  Idem, p. 110, no. 49, reproduced in colour p. 111.
3.  Idem, p. 88, no. 9, reproduced in colour p. 36, fig. 25, & p. 37.