Lot 8
  • 8

Paul Theodor van Brussel

120,000 - 180,000 GBP
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  • Paul Theodor van Brussel
  • Still life of fruits and flowers together with a bird's nest arranged upon a stone ledge
  • signed and dated lower right: P.T. v Brusfel. f. 1794
  • oil on hardwood panel, probably mahogany


Private Collection, The Netherlands;
Anonymous sale, Amsterdam, Mak van Waay, 7 April 1970, lot 19;
With Richard Green, London;
Acquired from the above by the present owners.


The Connoisseur, June 1970, reproduced.


The following condition report is provided by Sarah Walden who is an external specialist and not an employee of Sotheby's: Paul Theodor van Brussel. Flowerpiece signed and dated 1794. This painting is on one single piece of wood, perhaps mahogany. It is bevelled on all sides and has apparently never moved at all, but remained perfectly flat. The extraordinary preservation of the panel itself is equalled by the mastery of every detail within the flowerpiece, including the delicacy of the distant woodland background. Very rare minute imperfections can be seen under ultra violet light: one tiny touch on the butterfly's wing, one on the central red flower, and a sprinkling of little minor touches on the outer white petal of the pinkish rose in the middle. The exquisite perfectionism of the painter has remained intact. This report was not done under laboratory conditions.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

Van Brussel was first apprenticed to Jan Augustini in Haarlem as a designer and painter of wallpapers. After his marriage in 1774 he moved to Amsterdam and specialised in flower and fruit painting, and remained there until his early death at the age of forty one, apparently from drowning. Dated examples of his paintings are known from 1778 until 1794, the year of this painting. In his choice of arrangements and especially in their extraordinary naturalistic detail he was clearly heavily influenced by the work of Jan van Huysum (1682–1747). Together with Jan van Os in particular, he was one of the painters that carried this style through into the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The pyramidal design of the composition, and the lavishly piled mixture of both fruit and flowers is typical of both painters, though Van Brussel's style was rather more linear in character. The closely observed bird's nest is characteristic of his mature style and appears in a number of other works, for example that of 1787 from the Eckstein collection sold in these Rooms, 8 December 1948, lot 6, and now in the Art Institute in Chicago. Although genuine works by him are now quite rare, Van Brussel must have achieved some success in his lifetime, for a pair of still lifes on panel are said to have come from the collection of Willem II of Holland.His works were certainly copied or imitated by Johan Christian Roedig (1751–1802), who may have been his pupil. A copy of the present panel, for example, which may well be by his hand, was sold New York, Sotheby's, 28 January 1999, lot 352. 

1. One reproduced in P. Mitchell, European Flower Painters, London 1973, pp. 70–71, fig. 100.