PROPERTY FROM A EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTION
This panel is one of only a very small number of signed and dated examples of Van Dijck's work. Because of the rarity of other signed and dated examples, it is not easy to date the present painting precisely within the second decade of the seventeenth century, the most productive in Van Dijck's limited œuvre. The last digit of the date is unfortunately now indistinct, but has speculatively been read as a '5' for 1615. The closest parallels with securely dated pictures are to be found with a painting of 1613 preserved in the Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem (fig. 1).1 This incorporates many of the objects and arrangements that are to be found in the present picture, for example the two cheeses piled on a pewter dish, the bunch of grapes, and the apples in the blue and white porcelain bowl. A similar date of execution for the present panel around the middle of the decade would thus seem quite plausible.
The most prominent part of the design is, of course, the stack of two cheeses. The top one may be a sheep's cheese from the island of Texel known as a Texelse Schapenkaas, which were famous in the seventeenth century. Its green colour comes from its method of production, including the addition of a reduction of boiled sheeps' droppings to the milk to give it a distinctive spicy flavour. The large cheese beneath it is an aged cheese known as Oude Kaas, which is still widely eaten today.
1 Inv. no. 79; see E. Gemar-Koeltzsch, Holländischer Stillebenmaler im 17. Jahrhundert, Lingen 1995, vol. II, p. 292, cat. no. 98/2.
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