- Pieter Claesz.
- Still life with a brazier, a wine-glass, a bread roll, smoking paraphenalia, two herrings and a pewter plate adorned with oysters and tobacco paper, all arranged on a table-top
- signed with monogram and dated lower left: PC Ao. 1624.
- oil on oak panel
- 35.8 by 51.5 cm.; 14 1/8 by 20 1/4 in.
Anonymous sale (Dr. H. Schulhof et al.), Berlin, Lepke, 17-18 May 1892;
Sale (Gloecke Collection et al.), Cologne, Lempertz, 5 June 1893, lot 129;
Anonymous sale, Berlin, Sedelmeyer (their wax seal affixed to the reverse), 16 November 1897, lot 7;
A.L.E. Ridder de Stuers (1841-1919);
Thence by family descent to the present owner.
Catalogus der Schilderijen, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam 1934, p. 70, no.693a;
N. Vroom, De Schilders van het Monochrome Banketje, Amsterdam 1945, p. 21, no. 21, reproduced fig. 6;
I. Bergström, Studier i holländskt stillebenmåleri under 1600-talet, Gôteborg 1947, p. 116;
I. Bergström, Dutch Still Life painting in the Seventeenth Century, New York 1956, p.116;
A. Bengtsson and H. Omberg, "Structural changes in Dutch seventeenth century landscape, still-life, genre and architecture painting", in Figura, I, 1951, p. 36, reproduced p. 34;
N. Vroom, A Modest Message as intimated by the painters of the 'Monochrome Banketje', Schiedam 1980, vol. I, p. 23, reproduced fig. 14, and vol. II, cat. no. 44;
M. Brunner-Bulst, Pieter Claesz. der Hauptmeister des Haarlemer Stillebens im 17. Jahrhundert, Lingen 2004, p. 210, no. 9 (as present whereabouts unknown).
This beautifully observed still life is an early work by Pieter Claesz., one of only a limited number of works from this early phase of his career. It is one of the very first works in which Claesz. abandons the elevated viewpoint and bright local colour of his earliest paintings in the tradition established in Haarlem by Nicolaes Gillis and Floris van Dyck for a more intimate and realistic style. Another work of 1624, that in the Rheinisches Landesmuseum in Bonn, remains, for example, close in style to the still lifes of his contemporary Floris van Schooten.1 But in this work, as in succeeding works in the 1620s, Claesz. has lowered the rear edge of the table-top in the picture plane, thereby enhancing the immediacy and realism of his still life. Many of the same objects or motifs in this picture appear in other works from this period, in particular the Still life with a cheese-basket in The Hague, Rijksdienst Beeldende Kunst, and the Still life with lemons and smoking utensils sold in these Rooms, 16 December 1999, lot 16, in which the same silver oval tobacco box, the small brazier, pipe and tapers recur.2 The prominent herrings reappear in two works from the following year: a small oval still life in a private collection and another Still life with ham and herrings in a Danish private collection.3 The inclusion of the oysters, however, seems to be without parallel in his work of this date. Here Claesz. develops the composition by arranging the elements in a circular design around the interplay of two diagonals formed by the knife and taper on one hand and by the pipe and herrings on the other. The texture of the herring flesh and the reflection of the oysters in the pewter dish are handled with considerable confidence for such a young painter and already look forward to his development in the following decade. As Bergström remarked, they already show the "... mellow treatment of colour and freedom of brushwork which were later to be so characteristic of him".4 Such spatial complexity and this new realistic approach soon eclipsed rivals such as Schooten and by the end of the decade Claesz's fame and reputation in Haarlem were secured.
The earliest known owner of this painting, Alphonse Lambert Eugene Ridder de Stuers (1841-1919), was a diplomat and noted collector of Old Master pictures, and built his collection under the guidance of his friend the celebrated Director of the Rijksmuseum, Frederick Schmidt-Degener (1881-1941) (Fig. 1). His collection was largely dispersed at auction in 1932, but the Rijksmuseum retains three of his pictures, including works by Jan van Scorel and Marinus van Reymerswaele. He owned at least one other painting by Claesz., the Vanitas still life of 1628 today in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.5
1. See M. Brunner-Bulst, under Literature, 2004, p. 211, cat. no. 11, reproduced in colour p. 19.
2. Brunner-Bulst, op. cit., pp. 211 and 213, cat. nos. 11 and 17, both reproduced.
3. Ibid., pp. 212-3, cat. nos. 15 and 16, both reproduced, the former in colour facing p. 24.
4. Bergström, under Literature, 1956, p. 116.
5. Exhibited, Haarlem, Frans Hals Museum; Zurich, Kunsthaus; and Washington, National Gallery of Art, Pieter Claesz., Master of Haarlem Still Life, 2004, no. 18.