PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE COLLECTOR
Mignon's career lasted barely fifteen years but the still lifes that he painted in his short lifetime are of the very highest quality. Although his initial training was in Frankfurt, his town of birth, where he was a pupil of Jacob Marrel from 1647, his style was formed in Utrecht under the influence of Jan Davidsz. de Heem, the greatest still-life painter of the age. The death of Mignon's father in 1660 may have been the cause behind his move to Utrecht, where he eventually entered the guild in 1669. Mignon never dated his paintings so it is very difficult to establish a chronology for his work; however, it is likely that still lifes such as this one which, with their sharp focus and clear colours set against a dark background, are a purification of De Heem's style, from the time when he was working most closely with his master.
Indeed this jewel like picture does succeed as a synthesis of these artists approaches to still life painting, both in compositional design as well as handling and technique. Whereas in some of Mignon's most ambitious works there is a profusion of still life elements that, while carefully placed, appear to burst from the picture plane, the present composition is more restrained and ordered in the manner of de Heem's best flower and fruit compositions. In this regard de Heem would have likely influenced Mignon, and we see such compositional inspiration in other works by the artist, for instance a picture in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, which is based on a de Heem in the National Museum, Bucharest. The handling in both that panel and the present work, however, is distinctly by Mignon in his red-yellow-blue color pallete and highly realistic manner of painting from nature.2 Individual elements in the present work are found in other pictures by Mignon, for instance the prominent pair of peaches and prickly fruit in the immediate foregound, which Mignon features in a number of his niche paintings, such as that in the Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe.
We are grateful to Fred Meijer for his assistance in the cataloguing of this lot. Additionally, when last sold (see Provenance), Ingvar Bergstrom supported the attribution to Mignon based on first hand inspection.
1. Private communication, 11 December 2013.
2. M. Kraemer-Noble, Abraham Mignon, 1640-1679: catalogue raisonne : deutsch/englisch, Petersberg 2007, cat. no. 18.
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