Lot 67
  • 67

Adriaen Coorte

800,000 - 1,200,000 USD
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  • Adriaen Coorte
  • Wild strawberries on a ledge
  • signed and dated lower left: A Coorte/1704
  • oil on paper, laid down on panel


S. Gratama, Arnhem;
By whom bequeathed to the Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, 1932;
By whom sold in 1960 to H. Terry-Engell Gallery, London;
Eliot Hodgkin (1905-1987), London;
By whom sold ("The Property of Eliot Hodgkin, Esq."), London, Sotheby's, 12 April 1978, lot 12, to Brod;
With Alfred Brod Gallery, London;
Felix Fostel, Lugano, by 1979;
Ferdinand Knecht, Zurich;
David Koetser, 1996.


Zurich, Kunsthaus, Unbekannte Schönheit: Bedeutende Werke aus fünf Jahrhunderten, 9 June - 31 July 1956, no. 68 (as on panel);
Dordrecht, Dordrechts Museum, Adriaen Coorte: Stillevenschilder, 2 August - 28 September 1958, no. 13;
London, H. Terry-Engel Gallery, Silent World: Exhibition of Still-Life Paintings by Old Masters, 25 October - 3 December 1960, no. 11;
Osaka, Nabio Museum of Art; Tokyo, Tokyo Station Gallery; Sydney, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Flowers and Nature: Netherlandish Flower Painting of Four Centuries, 20 April - 28 October 1990, no. 58;
New Orleans 1997, no. 14;
Baltimore 1999, no. 13;
Albany, Albany Institute of History & Art, Matters of Taste: Food and Drink in 17th-Century Dutch Art and Life, 20 September - 8 December 2002, no. 20;
Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, Small Wonders: Dutch Still Lifes by Adriaen Coorte, 29 June - 28 September 2003, no. 12;
The Hague,  Koninklijk Kabinet van Schilderijen Mauritshuis, Ode To Coorte, The still lifes of Adriaen Coorte, 23 February - 8 June 2008, no. 56.


Mededeelingen van den Dienst voor Kunsten en Wetenschappen der Gemeente 's-Gravenhage, vol. 3, 1933, p. 74, cat. no. 5;
G. Knuttel, Gemeentemuseum te 's Gravenhage: Catalogus van de schilderijen, aquarellen en teekeningen, The Hague 1935, p. 48, cat. nos. 14-32;
J.G. van Gelder, Ashmolean Museum: Catalogue of the Collection of Dutch and Flemish Still-Life Pictures Bequeathed by Daisy Linda Ward, Oxford 1950, p. 69;
L.J. Bol, "Adriaan S. Coorte, stillevenschilder," in Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek, vol. 4, 1952-1953, pp. 202, 220-221, cat. no. 43;
P.T.A. Swillens, Schilderslexicon, Utrecht 1957, p. 77;
L.J. Bol, in Adriaen Coorte: Stillevenschilder, exhibition catalogue, Dordrecht 1958, cat. no. 13, reproduced;
W. Bernt, Die niederländischen Maler des 17. Jahrhunderts, Munich 1962, vol. 4, cat. no. 56, reproduced;
L.J. Bol, Adriaen Coorte: A Unique Late Seventeenth Dutch Still-Life Painter, Assen 1977, pp. 8, 9, 15, note 27, 29 57 cat. no. 62;
C. Wright, ed., Paintings in Dutch Museums: An Index of Oil Paintings in Public Collections in The Netherlands by Artists born before 1870, London 1980, p. 81;
S. Segal, in Flowers and Nature: Netherlandish Flower Painting of Four Centuries, exhibition catalogue, Osaka, Toyko and Sydney 1990, p. 226, cat. no. 58;
P. Hecht, "Een Coorte voor Middelburg," in Kunstschrift, vol. 35, 1991, p. 9, reproduced;
Pick of the Bunch: A loan exhibition of flower and still life paintings from the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, including works from the Broughton bequest, exhibition catalogue, London 1993, p. 38;
New Orleans 1997, pp. 34-36, cat. no. 14, reproduced;
Baltimore 1999, pp. 35-36, cat. no. 13, reproduced;
D.R. Barnes and P.G. Rose, in Matters of Taste: Food and Drink in 17th-Century Dutch Art and Life, Albany 2002, pp. 8, 68, cat. no. 20, reproduced p. 69;
A. Wheelock, in Small Wonders: Dutch Still Lifes by Adriaen Coorte, exhibition catalogue, Washington, D.C. 2003, p. 11, cat. no. 12, reproduced fig. 3;
P. Hecht, in Vom Adel der Malerei: Holland um 1700/De kroon op het werk: Hollandse schilderkunst 1670-1750, exhibition catalogue, Cologne, Dordrecht and Kassel 2006, p. 24, reproduced fig. 17;
Q. Buvelot, The still lifes of Adriaen Coorte (active c. 1683-1707) With oeuvre catalogue, The Hague 2008, pp. 32, 114, cat. no. 56, p. 131, no. XXX, reproduced p. 40, fig. 29, and p. 115, fig. 56.


The following condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes of Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, simonparkes@msn.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. This charming work on paper mounted onto an oak panel may be slightly dirty. The support is certainly good. There are no retouches throughout the still life, and only a thin horizontal line of retouching about a quarter of an inch from the bottom edge shows under ultraviolet light. The work is clearly in excellent condition and it is recommended that it be hung as is.
"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

Coorte's deceptively simple still lifes depicting fruit, nuts, vegetables and shells, set against a plain dark background, are enormously appealing to the modern eye.  Having fallen into obscurity in the 18th and 19th centuries, the first catalogue of the artist’s work was published in 1952-53 by Laurens Bol (see Literature).  That publication and Bol’s subsequent exhibition of twenty- one of Coorte’s paintings at the Dordrechts Museum in 1958, (see Exhibited) brought the artist back into the public’s consciousness and secured his reputation as one of the most distinctive and original Netherlandish still life painters.

The details of Coorte’s life are largely unknown; even the years of his birth and death remain a mystery, though he is thought to have been a native of Middelburg in Zeeland.  Dated paintings by the artist range from the years 1683-1705.  His earliest works feature birds in landscapes and are so close in style to the works of Melchior d’Hondecoeter (1636-1695) that it has led to speculation that Coorte may have worked with him in Amsterdam.1  Bol’s research revealed that between 1700 and 1900, most works by Coorte were to be found in collections in Middelburg and its vicinity leading to the conclusion that this is where the artist spent the greater part of his career.2  In addition, in a written record from the yearbooks for 1695-96 of the painters Guild of Saint Luke in Middelburg, it is noted that an artist referred to as “Coorde” was fined for selling paintings in that city without being a guild member.  By that date, Coorte had been an active painter for at least 13 years and it is curious that he would not have been a member of the painters guild.  From this, some scholars have deduced that, perhaps, Coorte was a gentleman painter or amateur.3  Certainly, in his mature style, he does not show the marked influence of other artists, and the restraint and simplicity of his compositions is at odds with the more opulent still life paintings that were the prevailing fashion of the time.

Today, Coorte’s known oeuvre consists of about sixty-four paintings.  Many of his compositions, like the present one, depict natural objects set on a stone ledge against a dark background.  One of his favorite subjects was wild strawberries (fragaria vesca) which he included in no less than eighteen paintings.  Sometimes they were combined with other fruits and vegetables, such as gooseberries and asparagus.  In other paintings they are the central focus, most often depicted in a small earthenware bowl and, more infrequently, in a blue and white Wan-Li porcelain bowl.  Only three paintings, including the present one, depict the strawberries uncontained and casually piled on the corner of a stone ledge.4  The other two, one dated 1700 (whereabouts unkown) and the other dated 1705 (Mauritshuis, The Hague) depict the ledge and berries in the opposite direction, and the Mauritshuis picture is upright rather than horizontal.  In the Weldon painting, the vibrant red of the tiny berries is varied with greenish yellow patches on some of the fruit, and their stippled texture has been meticulously rendered.  Two of the berries still have their stems attached, while a single white blossom springs up at right.  The composition is intensely focused and intimate.  A few of the strawberries are balanced so precariously close to the edge that one can imagine they might tumble off at any moment.

From the mid-1690s onward, many of Coorte’s works were painted on paper laid down on panel, such as this painting, or laid down on canvas.  A technique that was highly unusual in the 17th and 18th centuries, it seems to have been Coorte’s preferred working method.  It is possible that he drew his design first on paper and then worked in oils on top of this.  Whether the paper was affixed to the panel or canvas by Coorte himself or, perhaps, by someone else after his death to make the paintings more marketable has been debated.5  Interestingly, Coorte is known to have re-used paper that had already been written on.  During restoration, a painting sold at Sotheby’s, London in 2006 was removed from its panel support and was discovered to have been painted over a page from a merchant’s account book from the early 1600s.6


1.  See Buvelot, under Literature, cat. nos. 2 and 3, both signed and dated 1683, in the collection of Fondation Aetas Aurea and Ashmolean Museum, Oxford respectively.
2.  Ibid., p. 18 and Bol, op.cit., 1977 pp. 4-5 and 31.
3.  Ibid., p. 18, and A. Wheelock, op.cit., p. 5.
4.  Ibid.; cat. nos. 44 (dated 1700) and 60 (dated 1705).
5.  For a detailed discussion of Coorte’s painting technique, see Ibid. pp. 57-61.
6.  London, Sotheby’s, 5 July 2006, lot 36.