Lot 40
  • 40

Adriaen Coorte

60,000 - 80,000 GBP
110,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Adriaen Coorte
  • Still life of herring on a plate with a bread roll, a glass of beer and an onion
  • signed and dated lower centre: A. Coorte. 1697
  • oil on canvas
  • 36.8 x 42.8 cm.; 14 1/2  x 16 3/4  in.


Probably Anonymous sale, Middelburg, Van de Sande et fils, 20–21 July 1802, lot 36: 'Een frai Stukje, waarin op een bord een Haring, Brood en Bierglas &c, op Doek, hoog duim 14, breed duim 17' ('A beautiful piece in which on a plate a Herring, Bread and Beerglass, canvas, 35.6 x 43 cm.');

Anonymous sale, London, Christie's, 29 June 1973, lot 41, for 5,000 guineas, to Eisenweiss;

Anonymous sale, London, Christie's, 15 April 1992, lot 6;

Anonymous sale, London, Christie's, 23 April 1993, lot 186;

With Johnny van Haeften, London;

Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1993.


L.J. Bol, 'Adriaan S. Coorte, stilleven-schilder', in Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek, vol 4, 1952–53, p. 225, no. 76, p. 229, no. 36;

F.A. van Braam et al., World Collectors' Annuary, vol. 25, 1973, p. 106;

L.J. Bol, Adriaen Coorte: a Unique Late Seventeenth century Dutch Still-Life Painter, Assen 1977, pp. 15, 42, 50, no. 30, reproduced plate 18;

F.G. Meijer, Stillevens uit de Gouden Eeuw, Rotterdam 1989, p. 70, n. 2;

B. Frederiksen, R. Priem, J. Armstrong, Corpus of Paintings sold in the Netherlands in the Nineteenth Century 1801–1810, Los Angeles 1998, p. 176, no. 36;

E. Bénézit, Dictionnaire des peintres..., Paris 1999, vol. III, p. 859;

Q. Buvelot, The Still-Lifes of Adriaen Coorte (active c.1685–1707) with oeuvre catalogue, The Hague 2008, pp. 29, 98, no. 28, reproduced.

Catalogue Note

Long overlooked, Adriaen Coorte's style and technique were nevertheless highly distinctive. In stark contrast to the contemporary fashion for more exuberant and decorative still-life paintings, such as those of Abraham Mignon, his work is instantly recognisable for its simplicity of treatment and restricted range of subject matter. In this humble ontbijtje or breakfast piece, a roll of bread, an onion, a glass of beer and a herring on a plain wooden platter are set against a plain dark background, the light falling from above and to the right. The combination of these simple elements was not used by Coorte again and appears to be unique in his known œuvre. In its choice of subject matter the picture sits firmly in the tradition of the great Haarlem painters Willem Claesz. Heda (1594–1680) and Pieter Claesz (1597–1661). Coorte may have been aware of their style through the work of painters such as Karel Slabbaert (1619–1654), who brought it from Amsterdam to Middelburg.1 That it was painted relatively late in Coorte's career as a painter is also surprising. While the unadorned nature of Coorte's works renders them simple, they are very far from being naïve; his interest in the effects of light and texture are always keen, and here the way the oval wooden plate upon which the herring rests is tilted in order to bring it into the light and create spatial depth in the picture, shows considerable care in its design.

Like his paintings, Coorte's life is marked by its relative isolation. A native of Izendijke, a small town in the province of Zeeland, he moved with his mother to Middelburg in 1675.2 He may later have moved to Vlissingen, but the pioneering research by Laurens Bol showed that most works by Coorte recorded in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were to be found in collections in or around Middelburg (including the present work), and it is likely that he spent most of his career here.3 It is possible that he was a gentleman or amateur painter, for a record from the 1695–96 yearbooks of the Guild of Saint Luke in Middelburg show that he was fined for selling pictures there without being a member. Coorte seems to have been active as a painter between 1683 and 1705, and his known work today consists of some sixty-four paintings. From the mid-1690s onwards, although he continued to paint directly onto canvas as here, Corte often painted on paper laid down onto canvas or panel.

1. Compare, for example, the signed toebackje (tobacco) still-life sold London, Sotheby's, 8 July 1999, lot 11.

2. T. de Jong and H.J. Plankeel, 'Adriaen Coorte of Izendijke', Oud Holland, vol. 128, 2015, pp. 55–58

3. Bol 1977 pp. 4–5.