THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN
Willem van Leen was born in Dordrecht in 1753 and after his initial apprenticeship with three local teachers, he went to Paris for the first time in 1773 to study with Gerard van Spaendonck (1746-1822). Van Leen worked alternately in Holland and Paris but left the French capital at the outbreak of the Revolution in 1789. He settled in Delfshaven where he was also active as an art dealer and an auctioneer. In that time he acquired a number of pupils, such as Gerrit Jan van Leeuwen (1756-1825). This painting, a highly characteristic work of his maturity, was thus executed some time after his return from Paris.
Van Leen specialized in depicting flower and fruit pieces, in paintings, watercolours and black-chalk drawings, and he also decorated French snuff-boxes with flowers. Dated work by the artist is known from 1785 to 1821. Van Leen's oeuvre is distinguished by a softness of touch, quite different from the precision and accurateness found in the work of Gerard van Spaendonck.
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