Jan van Kessel the Elder
- Jan Van Kessel the Elder
- Butterflies, a moth, ladybird and other insects with a sprig of auricula
- oil on copper
- 13.7 x 19 cm.; 5 5/8 x 7 1/2 in.
With Johnny van Haeften, London;
From whom acquired by the present owner in March 2003.
Although we cannot know for certain of their original function, these tiny coppers most probably originally formed part of a series of plates for a small cabinet, in which a collector would have kept his natural specimens as well as other curiosities in small drawers. Unfortunately over time most of these sets were split up, but surviving examples, such as that sold in these rooms, 11 March 1964, lot 66 (see fig. 1) indicate that the smaller panels formed a border around a larger central panel. Another complete set, for example, painted in 1658, now in the Mellon Collection in Washington (see fig. 2), included sixteen panels of similar size to the present pair of 14.3 x 19 cm. around a central panel of 38.7 by 53 cm.4 The very high quality of the present panel and its companion (see following lot) would suggest that they may be of similar date. The sprig of auricular, for example, recurs in a signed and dated copper of 1659 of very similar size, today at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta.5
1. See for example the set of panels of 1653 sold in these rooms 3 July 1997, lots 12–14, for £220,000, £215,000 and £200,000 respectively.
2. F.G. Meijer, The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Catalogue of the collection of paintings. The Collection of Dutch and Flemish Still-life paintings bequeathed by Daisy Linda Ward, Zwolle 2003, p. 229, reproduced fig. 41.1
3. Dr. S. Segal (private communication, n.d.) has identified the following insects in these paintings: Ichneumon fly, Nettle Leaf roller, Raspberry beetle, Brush beetle, Sevenspot ladybird, Hedge Brown butterfly, Magpie moth, Brimstone butterfly, Speckled wood butterfly, Bee-eating beetle and Garden Tiger Moth.
4. Ertz and Nitze-Ertz 2012, p. 252, nos 330–46, and F.G. Meijer, The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Catalogue of the collection of paintings. The Collection of Dutch and Flemish Still-life paintings bequeathed by Daisy Linda Ward, Zwolle 2003, p. 229, reproduced fig. 41.1, and in colour in The Connoisseur, vol. CXXXVII (1956), no. 553, pp. 198–99.
5. Ertz and Nitze-Ertz 2012, p. 262, no. 381.